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Constitutional Review and Democratic Consolidation: A Literature Review

Discussion Papers


March, 2009


This paper reviews the literature on the prevalence of constitutional review across the world, and particularly in emerging democracies, during the last two decades. Two major questions should be addressed in this regard. First, why has the judiciary been empowered and what factors affect judicial activism? Second, does constitutional review ensure an effective self-enforcing function? In sum, the literature shows that constitutional review can make democracy self-enforcing if there is sufficient competition among political parties or between the legislature and the executive branch of government. In a more sophisticated case, political balance within the court can also ensure the observance of court decisions.

Keywords: judiciary, constitutional review, democracy

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