The French Constitutional Council and deciding to delegate
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Political actors are often perceived as self-preserving, rational actors who rarely give power away voluntarily. Yet the proliferation of independent constitutional courts presents the puzzle of why politicians are willing to delegate, seemingly irrevocably, authority to institutions that will most certainly constrain the implementation of their policy preferences. A variety of hypotheses purport to explain this phenomenon of judicial empowerment, relying variously on economic factors, electoral strategy, international influences, ideology, and interest groups. My dissertation examines this larger question in light of the sudden transformation of France’s Constitutional Council into a potent constitutional court in October of 1974. France, with its long political tradition of hostility to American-style judicial review, provides perhaps the most dramatic example of judicialization. Drawing on research into elite attitudes, parliamentary debates, government and intra-party documents, and extensive newspaper reports, the project evaluates the claims of competing explanations of judicial empowerment in the French context, with an eye to their applicability in other industrial democratic states. It concludes with a comparative inquiry into the genesis of constitutional courts, juxtaposing case studies from France, Israel, and Sweden.