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Promoting the rule of democratic law : the impact of non-institutional accountability mechanisms Blanaru, Ana-Maria


Both theoretical and empirical analyses of the rule of law concentrate on the procedural, rather than the substantive dimensions of laws. In the context of the literature on the rule of law in democratizing states, I argue that this has led to insufficient attention being devoted to the substance of laws and constitutions. Moreover, theoretical accounts of mechanisms for promoting and protecting the rule of law, which concentrate on law enforcement, judicial independence and checks and balances among the branches of government, do not provide us with an analytical framework for examining non-institutional mechanisms that can account for variations in the strength of the rule of law over time. In this study, I introduce the argument that non-institutional accountability mechanisms (such as protests) employed by civil society and opposition political movements can be central to holding governments accountable and pressuring them to act in accordance with the rule of law, the constitution, and democratic principles. I develop a game-theoretic model that shows how the presence of non-institutional accountability mechanisms constrains the actions of executives who would otherwise transgress the laws or amend the constitution in a manner that undermines the democratic regime. Drawing upon recent evidence that shows the positive relationship between the rule of law and political stability in democratic states, I introduce new evidence that also shows the presence of this relationship in the gradually-democratizing states of the Arab world. I then examine the particular circumstances in which this relationship may be reversed in the short run, when non-institutional accountability mechanisms are employed because institutionalized accountability mechanisms are ineffective. Finally, I examine both rational choice and psychological theories of protest movements to elaborate strategies for facilitating the employment of non-institutional accountability mechanisms in order to protect the rule of law and democracy.

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