Just Published! Toga Party: The Political Bias of Italian Judges (1983–2013)


Toga Party: The Political Basis of
Judicial Investigations against MPs in
Italy (1983–2013)

South European Society & Politics (Journal IF: 1.035)

Co-author: Marco Mainenti

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

Acknowledgments: Associazione Nazionale Magistrati (ANM) for sharing data. Yoshi Kobayashi, Jim Newell, Veronica Grembi, Raffaele Asquer, Fabio Franchino, Luigi Curini, Chris Hanretty, Federica Genovese, Chiara Superti, Cristina Dallara, Guido De Blasio, Tommaso Nannicini, as well as participant at the annual meeting of European Political Science Association, Barcelona, 20–22 June 2013, and the annual conference of the Italian Society of Political Science, Florence, 12–14 September 2013 for helpful comments and suggestions.

What is worth remembering:

  • There are left-wing judges and right-wing judges, baby
  • Prosecutors’ ideological positions affect judicial investigations
  • Left-wing judges send more RAP to right-wing parties
  • Right-wing judges send less RAP to right-wing parties
  • The politicisation of the judiciary began well before Tangentopoli and Berlusconi
  • The independence of the judiciary does not necessarily imply impartiality


Scholars agree that ideology affects judicial decision-making. We demonstrate that this proposition holds true even when the judiciary is independent of political control. Focusing on Italy (1983–2013), where the politicisation of the judiciary was an issue well before the entry of Berlusconi into politics, we estimate judicial orientations according to the support for factions within the National Judiciary Association. The results show that ideology affects trial court activity against deputies. As the support for left-wing factions increases, prosecutors are more likely to investigate right-wing parties. Conversely, as the share of right-leaning factions grows, investigations of moderate or rightist parties decrease.