Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department

Department of Political Science

Advisor(s)

Dr. John Hulsey

Dr. John Scherpereel

Dr. Charles Blake

Abstract

Judicial corruption is a complex phenomenon that continues to be an endemic problem in many countries around the world today. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) in particular have struggled to curb their judicial corruption levels since the fall of communism. Their systemic corruption problems are a hindrance to their respective democratization processes, including many countries’ prospective accessions to the European Union (EU). This paper seeks to examine causes of judicial corruption in Albania and Romania in an effort to better understand how and why corruption has become widespread. Additionally, this paper traces causal mechanisms over a seventeen-year period in order to extrapolate causes that are region-specific. The project examines three independent variables—judicial independence, media freedom, and EU membership and candidacy status. It concludes that countries with low levels of judicial corruption, as a result of high levels of destabilizing political competition and an ambiguous distribution of powers between the president and prime minister regarding authority over the judiciary, leads to higher levels of judicial corruption. Similarly, this study argues that countries with low levels of media freedom will have higher levels of judicial corruption. Finally, it concludes that EU leverage is successful in lowering judicial corruption in potential member and candidate countries, but that EU conditionality loses its effect once a country accedes to the Union, thus causing judicial corruption levels to stagnate.

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