“Restoring the Rule of Law within the EU: in Judges we Trust”, Jessica Almqvist (Elcano, Spain)

How to respond to the rule of law challenges faced as a result of access to power of Right-wing populist parties in some EU states is an outstanding question. Populism is a contested concept. Is it an ideology, a political movement, or a political style? From the standpoint of human rights, what strikes as particularly troublesome is the populist rejection of hard-won rights, such as the rights of immigrants and refugees, LGBTQI+ communities, and women’s rights. Equally striking are the populist strategy used to implement those views: the successive undermining of judicial independence. The strategy of taking control over the courts deprives those whose rights are denied in the name of populist goals from a place to turn for redress. However, the strategy of taking political control over courts is not instrumental to abolishing certain rights alone. It is the display of a systemic political ambition to destroy national systems of checks and balance that protect entire populations from the arbitrary use of political power for whatever political goals, including the elimination of democratic forms of government.

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