Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2014

Informal Interference in the Judiciary in New Democracies: A Comparison of Six African and Latin American Cases

Mariana Llanos, Cordula Tibi Weber, Charlotte Heyl, Alexander Stroh

April 2014

German Institute of Global and Area Studies


seThis paper assesses the extent to which elected power holders informally intervene in the judiciaries of new democracies, an acknowledged but under‐researched topic in studies of judicial politics. The paper first develops an empirical strategy for the study of informal interference based on perceptions recorded in interviews, then applies the strategy to six third‐wave democracies, three in Africa (Benin, Madagascar and Senegal) and three in Latin America (Argentina, Chile and Paraguay). It also examines how three conditioning factors affect the level of informal judicial interference: formal rules, previous democratic experience, and socioeconomic development. Our results show that countries with better performance in all these conditioning factors exhibit less informal interference than countries with poorer or mixed performance. The results stress the