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Chapter

Cover Foundations of European Politics

13. Rule of Law and Judicial Politics  

This chapter examines the importance of law and the rule of law by looking at real-life situations through the lens of theoretical models that consider why people obey the law and how judges interpret the law. The chapter considers when and why citizens and elected officials follow the law. It then moves to the conditions under which this obedience of laws falls. It also explores the importance of courts and judges in interpreting the law, and analyses the interaction of politics and law as a way to try to understand how judges come to their decisions. In particular, it looks at the interaction between national and European Union (EU) law.

Chapter

Cover Global Politics

8. International Law  

This chapter describes the broad challenges involved in establishing global order under conditions of anarchy through international law. The fact that there is no world government with powers akin to national governments means that maintaining cooperative relations between and among states is always a careful balancing act, given the problem of enforcing international law in the absence of a single, overarching sovereign authority. The chapter looks at law in the global sphere through the notion of rule of law. It then considers the emergence of international law in broad historical perspective. Moving on to international law in the twentieth century, and up to the present period, the chapter examines the nature of treaties, charters, and covenants which operate in multiple issue areas from postal services, trade, and aviation to communications, the environment, and human rights. It also focuses on two major international courts: the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Finally, the chapter reflects on how the principles and practices of a rules-based international order are faring in the contemporary period with a focus on Russia, China, and the US.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

30. Oakeshott  

David Boucher

This chapter examines Michael Oakeshott's political thought, beginning with a discussion of his scepticism and its relation to the background theory of British idealism that informs all aspects of his philosophy. It then considers Oakeshott's belief that philosophy is the uncovering and questioning of the postulates upon which all our forms of understanding rest. Oakeshott has been characterized as a conservative, a liberal, and an ideologist, but this chapter argues that he was neither conservative nor liberal in any party-political sense. It goes on to analyse Oakeshott's views on the rationalist in politics, civil association and the rule of law, and politics and law as well as his characterization of the modern European state. The chapter concludes by assessing the importance Oakeshott attached to myth and legend in the self-consciousness of a society.

Chapter

Cover The Member States of the European Union

9. Poland: Model European or Awkward Partner?  

Nathaniel Copsey and Karolina Pomorska

This chapter examines the pattern of Poland’s relations with the European Union during the period 1989–2011. Poland took an early decision in 1989 to place European integration at the centre of its plans for democratization and modernization. Post-accession opinion in Poland on the EU was initially divided between an increasingly Europhile public and an occasionally Eurosceptic political class. By the time of the Polish Presidency of the EU in 2011, however, Poland had largely shed its reputation for awkwardness and had achieved a few policy successes, particularly in relations with its Eastern neighbours. The chapter explains how Poland came to join the EU and assesses the impact of its EU membership on domestic politics, public opinion, institutions, governance, and public policy. It concludes by considering the re-emergent divide between elite and public attitudes since the 2015 elections and tensions with the EU over the rule of law.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

3. Democratic and Undemocratic States  

Richard Rose

This chapter discusses the distinction between democratic and undemocratic states, noting that it is not only about whether there are elections: it is about whether or not it there is the rule of law. When both conditions are met, elections are free and fair and the government is accountable to the electorate. When laws can be bent or broken, unfair elections represent the will of governors more than that of the governed. The chapter first defines democratic states and outlines the characteristics of a democratic state before assessing the state of states today. It then considers three kinds of undemocratic states, namely: constitutional oligarchy, plebiscitarian autocracy, and unaccountable autocracy. It also examines how democratization has more often come about by trial and error rather than through gradual evolution and concludes by analysing the dynamics of democratic and undemocratic states.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

13. John Locke  

Jeremy Waldron

This chapter examines and defends the relevance of John Locke's writings as political philosophy. Locke's political philosophy continues to have an enormous impact on the framing and the pursuit of liberal ideas in modern political thought — ideas about social contract, government by consent, natural law, equality, individual rights, civil disobedience, and private property. The discussion and application of Locke's arguments is thus an indispensable feature of political philosophy as it is practised today. After providing a short biography of Locke, the chapter considers his views on equality and natural law, property, economy, and disagreement, as well as limited government, toleration, and the rule of law. It concludes with an assessment of Locke's legacy as a political thinker.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

4. Measuring Democracy and Democratization  

Patrick Bernhagen

This chapter considers problems associated with classifying countries as democracies and non-democracies and measuring the extent to which a country has advanced on the path of democratization. It first examines different concepts and dimensions of democracy such as political sovereignty, political liberty, competition, participation, freedom of expression and belief, and rule of law. Using publicly available quantitative indices of democracy, the chapter illustrates the problems faced by researchers of translating these concepts into measures. It also asks whether democracy should be thought of as a property that is either present or absent, or, alternatively, a characteristic that can be present to a greater or lesser extent. Finally, it discusses various hybrid regime categories for their contribution to efforts of classifying and measuring political regimes.

Chapter

Cover The European Union

6. Democracy in the EU  

Richard Corbett and Daniel Kenealy

This chapter examines the democratic credentials of the EU. Beginning with a discussion of the idea of democracy beyond the state, it explores academic debates about whether the EU suffers a ‘democratic deficit’. The chapter evaluates the EU along various dimensions, including how powers are separated and divided within the EU, the extent to which executive accountability is established, and the various mechanisms of representation in the EU. It explores the nature of European elections, the role of European political parties, the role of national parliaments in EU policy-making and recent innovations in the way that the president of the European Commission is chosen. The chapter concludes with a discussion of fundamental rights, values, and the rule of the law in the EU with a particular focus on recent developments in Hungary and Poland.

Chapter

Cover UK Politics

5. The legal system and human rights  

This chapter focuses on the legal system in the UK and looks at how the legal system and human rights relate to the political system. The chapter starts by defining both the legal system and human rights and shows how they are important in politics and in our democratic society and how they work in practice. These are closely connected issues, as the UK legal system is supposed to operate within human rights principles. The chapter introduces a series of theoretical concepts that aid to the understanding of the legal system. Central to this is the concept of the rule of law. The chapter presents some practical examples to show how various goals are realized. The first example given in the provision of legal aid to those who cannot afford their own legal advice. The second example relates to how policy makers attempt to deal with threats of terrorism. The third example is the key legal basis for the upholding of human rights via the Human Rights Act 1998. The chapter finishes with a debate on the political role of courts and looks at the implications of Brexit for the legal system and human rights.