Judicial impartiality in politically charged cases
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This paper examines under which institutional and political circumstances tenured public officials make partisan decisions. It analyzes the decisions of the judges from the French supreme administrative court regarding the validity of controverted mayoral elections between 1958 and 2007 and uses the vote differential between winners and losers in each election as a quasi-natural experiment to assess the judges’ impartiality. It appears that the judges became partisan after 1981, when the far-right Front National party started to gain more votes. Before 1981, judges cancelled elections only when the vote differential between the election winner and the closest challenger was small. Afterwards, the affiliation of the parties’ candidates also mattered as judges seldom cancelled elections won by communist, mainstream left-wing and mainstream right-wing politicians.
KeywordsPublic officials Electoral fraud Elections Judges
JEL ClassificationD72 D73 H11
I thank Stefan Voigt (the editor), two anonymous referees, Katarzyna Metelska-Szaniawska as well as participants at the ALEA and ELEA meetings for helpful comments. The usual disclaimer applies.
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