To Reform or to Retain' Politicians’ Incentives to Clean Up Corrupt Courts in Hybrid Regimes

Research paper by Ketevan Bolkvadze

Indexed on: 05 May '20Published on: 04 Jul '19Published in: Comparative political studies


Comparative Political Studies, Ahead of Print. This article offers a novel take on the problem of judicial independence in nondemocracies. Some scholars hold that political fragmentation leads to more judicial independence; others argue that it leads to less independence in nondemocracies. These studies have focused on judicial politicization and neglected judicial corruption. Using a process-tracing controlled comparison of reforms in Georgia and Moldova, I investigate the impact of political fragmentation on judicial corruption. I argue that politicians in less fragmented regimes, as in Georgia, have stronger incentives to reform corrupt courts, and utilize anticorruption measures for establishing long-term political control. In more fragmented regimes, as in Moldova, politicians have stronger incentives to resist anticorruption measures and instead utilize corrupt courts for short-term private gains. These findings suggest that political fragmentation in hybrid regimes can propel politicians to delegate neither more, nor less power to courts, but instead to use distinct avenues, or “entry-points,” to influence judicial outcomes.