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11 - The European Court of Human Rights and Swiss Politics: How Does the Swiss Judge Fit In?

from Part II

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 June 2018

Marlene Wind
Affiliation:
University of Copenhagen
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Summary

The relationship between Swiss politics and the European Court of Human Rights cannot be understood without emphasising the pivotal role played by domestic courts’ interpretations of the European Convention. Swiss semi-direct democracy has been challenging the authority of the European Court of Human Rights and of the European Convention on Human Rights for decades, yet many of the tensions arising between the European Court and Swiss politics are appeased by the way Swiss judges interpret the Convention. By applying the interpretative principles required by the Convention and set out in the judgments of the European Court, Swiss courts prevent conflicts between the Convention and the Swiss legal order. On the other hand, the transparent and differentiated interpretative language Swiss courts use also helps them convince the European Court that the domestic polity does respect its obligations under the Convention. Several features of the Swiss legal order, especially its federal political organisation and its openness towards international law, facilitate Swiss courts’ mediating role. However, eventually, Swiss judges’ interpretative choices and methods ensure to an important extent that the European Court and Swiss politics accept each other’s respective decisions.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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