Helmke's Strategic Defection Theory

1475 Words6 Pages
Legal scholars and political scientists have devoted themselves to the study of courts world-wide. The need to understand and explain why judges act as they do in deciding and presid-ing over cases has also become a central issue. For instance, the dynamics of judicial politics in unstable or transitional democracies has been given special attention (Ginsburg and Moustafa 2008). Moreover, the influence of judicial authority in many countries is growing and judges are making politically inclined decisions to such an extent that judicial behaviour seems to play a significant role in political stability and consolidation of democracy, among other things (ibid., 2). It is not surprising therefore that the motivations underlying specific judicial…show more content…
The paper outlines the main arguments made by Helmke about judicial behaviour under dictator-ships and democracies alike. The main hypotheses and assumptions made will also be consid-ered. Using the case of the Zimbabwean judiciary, the paper seeks to find conditions that favour the strategic defection model. By taking the June 1998 land-reform programme in Zimbabwe as a starting point, the paper explores how the judiciary in Zimbabwe witnessed a great shift in its independence. Two major political events; the Constitutional referendum of February 2000 and the general parliamentary elections of June 2000 will also be examined. The effect of these events on the judiciary in Zimbabwe will be of great concern. The next section will give an overview of the impact of the June 2002 presidential elections on the be-haviour of judges. In the same light, this section applies the strategic defection model to the Zimbabwean context. In conclusion, the paper argues that even though….there is not enough factors observed in the Zimbabwean judiciary between 1998 to 2010 to support the strategic defection…show more content…
To give grounding to her argument, she assumes that these judges are generally uncertain about the leanings of the incoming government. The assumption is that if the incoming government cares about maintaining its legitimacy, it might not sanction judges regardless of what the judges deliberate. However, if judges are uncertain about the next government, then the decision to defect may be helpful to them(ibid.). It is important to note that Helmke stresses that these anti-government rulings are not evidence of an independent judiciary, but of judges who are constrained vis-à-vis the incoming government, who will have the power to impose sanctions on

    More about Helmke's Strategic Defection Theory

      Open Document