The Responsiveness of the European Court of Human Rights to the European Crisis

Friday, July 14, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - G466 (University of Glasgow)
Erik Voeten , Government, Georgetown University
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has been swept up in the wave of anti-integration sentiment in European Union countries and more general skepticism towards international institutions in its non EU- member states. Governments have not only openly criticized the Court but have also threatened to leave and have publicly refused to implement judgments. To what extent do these external forces influence decision-making on the Court? Observers have speculated that the Court has become more restrained in its findings of violations. But there is no systematic evidence. I examine two potential pathways in which the Court may have been responsive. I use new data that includes judgments up until June of 2016. First, have countries with more euro-skeptic or anti-globalist governments replaced more activist judges with judges that favor more self-restraint? I use ideal point estimation on dissents to examine this (see Voeten 2007). Second, have countries become more lenient towards countries where the populace has become more skeptical of international institutions? In other words, how does public opinion influence the decisions of this counter-majoritarian institution?