Democracy and the Rule of Law

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Adam Przeworski, José María Maravall
Cambridge University Press, Jul 21, 2003 - Law - 321 pages
1 Review
This book addresses the question of why governments sometimes follow the law and other times choose to evade the law. The traditional answer of jurists has been that laws have an autonomous causal efficacy: law rules when actions follow anterior norms; the relation between laws and actions is one of obedience, obligation, or compliance. Contrary to this conception, the authors defend a positive interpretation where the rule of law results from the strategic choices of relevant actors. Rule of law is just one possible outcome in which political actors process their conflicts using whatever resources they can muster: only when these actors seek to resolve their conflicts by recourse to la, does law rule. What distinguishes 'rule-of-law' as an institutional equilibrium from 'rule-by-law' is the distribution of power. The former emerges when no one group is strong enough to dominate the others and when the many use institutions to promote their interest.
  

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This is a well written, engaging book where the reader is introduced to various concepts of the rule of law. As one of the authors said, laws cannot "rule" because to rule needs action, and it is only humans who can act. Hence the term "rule of law" is a paradox.
The numerous examples provide sufficient explanation on how the rule of law can be molded to suit a ruler's goal.
The book is very insightful and filled with rich ideas. It is not stuffy at all because the language is simple and has none of the legalese found in some books on law.
It is quite a good read.
 

Contents

Lineages of the Rule of Law
19
Power Rules and Compliance
62
Obedience and Obligation in the Rechtsstaat
94
A Postscript to Political Foundations of Democracy and the Rule of Law
109
Why Do Political Parties Obey Results of Elections?
114
Part III
145
The Majoritarian Reading of the Rule of Law
147
How Can the Rule of Law Rule? Cost Imposition through Decentralized Mechanisms
168
Part III
221
Courts as an Instrument of Horizontal Accountability The Case of Latin Europe
223
Rule of Democracy and Rule of Law
242
The Rule of Law as a Political Weapon
261
The Rule of Law and the Problem of Legal Reform in Michel de Montaignes Essais
302
Author Index
317
Subject Index
321
Copyright

Dictatorship and the Rule of Law Rules and Military Power in Pinochets Chile
188

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About the author (2003)

Adam Przeworski is the Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Politics at New York University. Previously, he was the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He is the author of thirteen books and numerous articles. His recent publications include Democracy and Development, co-authored with Michael R. Alvarez, Jose Antonio Cheibub and Fernando Limongi (2000), Democracy and the Rule of Law, co-edited with Jose Maria Maravall (2003), and States and Markets (2003). He is the recipient of the 2001 Woodrow Wilson Prize.

Jose Maria Maravall is the Director of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, Juan March Institute (Madrid). He is also a Professor of Sociology at the Universidad Complutense (Madrid), an Honorary Fellow of St. Antony's College (Oxford University), and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He holds doctorates from the universities of Madrid and Oxford. He was a socialist member of Parliament and Minister of Education and Science from 1982 to 1988. His previous publications include Economic Reforms in New Democracies (1993); Regimes, Politics, and Markets (1997); and (with A. Przeworski) Democracy and the Rule of Law (2003).

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