Constitutional review by courts is a significant trend in the last decades. Post-authoritarian democracies tend to establish a strong judicial power for rights adjudication. The relationship between democracy and judicial review, however, is contested, for fear of a "government of judges" and might have a substantial impact on transition processes to democracy. Therefore, newly empowered high courts in emerging democracies are reluctant to exercise their powers assertively or do so only in some policy areas, for fear of provoking retaliation by political leaders. A crucial question therefore is how courts exercise their powers, more precisely how they react to and anticipate political pressure. This requires that courts are studied in an integrated framework that combines legal expertise on judicial reasoning with political science knowledge on the broader context and performance of courts as government agencies. According to deliberative democracy, procedural requirements for rational, transparent and inclusive debate give legitimacy to laws. Courts may act as forum for deliberation by giving the public access to constitutional debate and providing for reason-based justifications. Our starting point is that deliberative venues, such as courts, are key ingredients of democracy, and may play an important part in the transition to democracy. Yet, at the same time politicians may constrain courts in the tasks they aim to fulfil or courts might be reluctant to use their powers to the full extent. This research project seeks to explain variation in the deliberative practices courts develop in the transition to democracy. In order to investigate this variation, the project will construct a theoretical framework as a basis for the empirical analysis. The study will focus on three research questions. RQ 1: whether and how the theory of deliberative democracy can explain fundamental tensions between constitutionalism, including constitutional review, and democracy. First, the tensions between legal and political constitutionalism need to be clarified. Next, we need to assess how this tension impacts upon democratic transition processes. What does it mean for a country to be in 'transition to democracy' and what is the role of constitutional review in emerging democracies? How can courts function as a forum for deliberation in transitory democracies? RQ 2: Do constitutional courts shape the furthering of democracy in countries in transition, by protecting and expanding human and socio-economic rights? This requires an analysis of both the legal framework and the historic and socio-political context in which the constitutional courts operate. We need to gather quantitative data about the legal organization and competences of the courts, who has access to the court and who actually lodges a case, which cases fall within the ambit of the courts and how the courts interpret and exercise their powers, what kind of rights are at stake, how and when these cases are settled. RQ 3: What explains the success of failure of constitutional courts as deliberative agents? Legal and socio-political factors will be taken into consideration. Legal factors concern the procedure and competences of the courts, e.g. whether individuals and interest groups have access to the court, whether courts give voice to those who have been affected by a public policy and whether judges give dissenting opinions. Socio-political factors concern the social, economic, political and cultural environment in which the courts function. Here, we will partially rely on indicators which have been developed in doctrine to explain the role played by courts: transparency, public support, political competition and separation of powers.