Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 193–229 | Cite as

Judicial impartiality in politically charged cases

  • Raphaël Franck
Original Paper


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.


Public officials Electoral fraud Elections Judges 

JEL Classification

D72 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.

Supplementary material

10602_2017_9252_MOESM1_ESM.docx (77 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 76 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsThe Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

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