Courts and elections in Asia
DOI link for Courts and elections in Asia
Courts and elections in Asia book
A survey of the ten Asian jurisdictions under study herein illuminates an interesting phenomenon. In states like Malaysia and Singapore where a dominant party or coalition is in control, their courts perform their supervisory functions of the democratic process, but they only operate at the fringes of the country’s political life. On the other hand, in dynamic democracies where there have been extended periods of competing political parties taking turns in office, their courts play a more central role in democratic consolidation. Such courts, as those found in Indonesia, South Korea, and Taiwan would ameliorate systemic inequalities in electoral systems and provide constitutional redress for vulnerable or unpopular groups that have been excluded from the voting process. But even then, successful courts in these dynamic democracies would attempt to be neutral arbiters between rivalling political parties and steer clear of overturning key electoral results or removing key politicians. Finally, for Asian courts that get too close to the ‘live wire of electoral politics’ and become partisan tools that assist one political camp to dislodge its rivals, as the Constitutional Court in Thailand did, their actions would only accelerate a political crisis that may send the country over the constitutional cliff. In fragile or unstable democracies, where the country oscillates regularly between military rule and civilian governments, prudent judges may prefer to insulate the courts against political attacks rather than engage in strong-form judicial review.