Political Competition and De Facto Judicial Independence in Non‐Democracies






This article investigates the role of political competition in explaining de facto judicial independence in non‐democratic regimes. It argues that the electoral, political insurance explanation popular in the study of courts in democracies also offers explanatory power in the autocratic context, despite popular wisdom otherwise: due to the relatively greater risks of losing power in non‐democracies, electoral competition is highly salient when present. This is examined via hierarchical and fixed effects models that show competition strongly associated with increased levels of independence. This relationship is robust to alternative model and data specification, and has strong out‐of‐sample predictive accuracy.

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