Transitions to the Rule of Law

Issue Date January 2010
Volume 21
Issue 1
Page Numbers 31-44
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Liberal democracy is held to be a combination of two sets of institutions—democratic ones that ensure that governments are accountable to popular choice, and liberal ones that provide for a rule of law. The latter has historically been understood as a body of rules of justice that bind a community together, something broader in scope than the property rights regimes which are the focus of most academic literature on the subject. In contrast to other law-governed societies, Western Europe was exceptional insofar as law was institutionalized earlier and to a higher degree than elsewhere on the force of factors such as codification, legal specialization, institutional autonomy, and the correspondence between law and social norms.