Japan

Organized Panel Session

1 - Tournaments, Prizes, and Political Support: Explaining LDP Dominance in Japanese House of Representatives Elections, 1980-2012

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Madison B, Mezzanine Level

We reexamine how elections are won and lost in democracies. Drawing upon Bueno de Mesquita and Smith (2016), we posit that candidates and parties can increase the number of votes won by converting elections into tournaments between teams, in which the team supplying the most votes is rewarded with private goods after the election. We examine the applicability of this mechanism in contemporary Japan, where the question of why the Liberal Democratic Party was able to gain a plurality of seats in every House of Representatives (HOR) election from 1958 until 2009, even after Japan’s 1994 electoral reform, has been a longstanding puzzle.  We assemble data on the universe of municipalities in existence in Japan from 1980-2012, including demographic characteristics, central government transfers, votes captured by candidates and parties in each municipality in the eleven HOR elections held in the same period, and estimates derived from quantitative text analysis of the degree to which candidates focused on the different municipalities within their districts during campaigns.  Our results shed new light on the general puzzle of how political elites whose policies enjoy little popular appeal can persist in power, and specifically, how the LDP has done so in contemporary Japan.

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1 - Tournaments, Prizes, and Political Support: Explaining LDP Dominance in Japanese House of Representatives Elections, 1980-2012



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