Legal defeats - Political wins: why do elected representatives go to court?

Yoav Dotan*, Menachem Hofnung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Why do political parties and politicians turn to litigation instead of using political channels in their efforts to affect public policies? Over the past 20 years, there has been a noticeable trend in which Israeli parties and politicians have turned to the courts for intervention in national and internal party affairs, government policies, and even parliamentary procedures. The authors argue that this phenomenon is tied to the growth of open competition within political parties on one hand and reforms in the legal doctrines controlling access to litigation on the other. This study indicates that politicians seek litigation even when their chances of winning in court are marginal. According to the findings, politicians exhibit a lower propensity to seek out-of-court settlements than other kinds of litigants. The results suggest that politicians resort to litigation to challenge majoritarian policies and also because they gain considerable media exposure (regardless of the actual outcome of litigation), enhancing their political stature.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)75-103
Number of pages29
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Constitutional politics
  • Judicial review
  • Legislative behavior
  • Litigation


Dive into the research topics of 'Legal defeats - Political wins: why do elected representatives go to court?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this