High courts and authoritarian consolidation

This project explores the role of high courts in the context of a political transition from competitive authoritarianism towards a dictatorship based on a hegemonic party. The use of high courts to entrench authoritarian rule – enhancing the regime's legitimation, bureaucratic compliance and social-control – depends on a series of non-exclusive conditions related to the court system, regime features and political context.

A transition towards non-competitive authoritarian regime may involve significant costs for rulers and judicial actors, including losing powers that judges enjoyed under a previous competitive configuration (i.e. a hybrid regime). Yet, a reliable, supportive judiciary in a dictatorial context can help the government solve internal conflicts, extract valuable information for policy making and operate with other organisms as part of a functional repressive apparatus.

Moreover, counterintuitively, at a time of rising authoritarianism worldwide, a judicial system willing to collaborate with the government could help a flagging regime to bolster its claim it is stable, functional and with enough political influence to deliver credible commitments made with international allies, financial institutions, business partners and other stakeholders.