In 2011, Bolivia became the first modern country to directly elect national judges. Reformers heralded the adoption of judicial elections as a “democratization of justice,” by which institutional independence would be assured, public confidence in the judiciary might be expanded, and various maladies of the judicial system would find resolution. We evaluate the elections in light of these objectives. We show candidates were advantaged when voters shared their partisan and demographic traits, resulting in unprecedented diversity on the national courts. Also, public confidence in the judiciary increased among government supporters but declined overall. We offer preliminary reflections for would-be reformers.
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