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Consolidated democracy, constitutional stability, and the rule of law

Naqvi, Nadeem and Neumärker, Bernhard and Pech, Gerald (2018): Consolidated democracy, constitutional stability, and the rule of law.

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What sets a consolidated democracy apart? We argue that the expectation that under the rule of law a law-abiding government will not enforce the unlawful acts of its predecessor creates incentives for agents - such as members of the civil service or law enforcement agencies - not to comply with such acts. Thus, even an opportunistic government may find it in its best interest to abide by constitutional rules or, once it has been in violation, to reinstate the legal order. If so, the government contributes to its own punishment and agents’ expectations are self-fulfilling. Thus the rule of law has instrumental value in stabilizing the constitutional order. We also provide a theoretical explanation of the empirical distinction between consolidated and transitory liberal democracies and we explain why consolidated democracies are likely to stave off populist challenges.

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