The Rule of Law and Constitutionalism in Muslim Countries

JERG GUTMAN, STEFAN VOIGT
PUBLIC CHOICE (2015). ADVANCED ONLINE PUBLICATION. 10.1007/s11127-015-0237-z

Abstract: Recently, several Muslim countries have ratified new constitutions. In this paper, we ask two questions: first, whether Muslim influence has a discernible impact on the content of such constitutions and, second, whether it has an impact on constitutional reality. More precisely, we are interested in the consequences of Islam for institutions securing the rule of law, while taking competing socioeconomic, geographic, and historical explanations explicitly into account. To this end, we construct a new Islamic State Index to measure the influence that Islam has on a society and its political and legal system. We find that Muslim influence is in conflict with the independence of the judiciary and nondiscriminatory legal institutions with respect to gender. Yet, parliamentary power as well as the protection of property rights and religious minorities are not significantly more constrained in Islamic states after we control for alternative explanations. Competing explanations such as the size of oil rents fare rather poorly in explaining differences in important aspects of the rule of law.