The Introduction frames the central arguments of the book in relation to present-day controversies over the European human rights system, as well as existing historical scholarship on its origins. The ECHR’s present-day imposition of constraints on democratic institutions in states wherein there exists no imminent danger of an authoritarian takeover is no innovation. So, too, was the vision of the Strasbourg court’s conservative inventors in the spirit of its current doctrines of dynamic interpretation and the margin of appreciation. Human rights served as a basis for admission to European organizations of states long before the expansion of the European Union into Eastern Europe and the denial of entry to Turkey.
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