Japan

Organized Panel Session

3 - Institutional Change and Legislative Speech: The Creation of Responsible Party Government in Japan

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

The incentives facing individual politicians and their parties under different electoral institutions can shape legislative politics into one of two broad forms: a “gains from trade” model (e.g., canonical theories of the US Congress) or a “responsible party government” model (e.g., a stylized parliamentary democracy). We synthesize the existing literature to tease out how these two models relate to a key aspect of legislative behavior: speech. We test the predicted linkages by leveraging major institutional reforms in Japan designed to move the country toward the responsible party government model. Using data on all plenary and committee speeches from 1947 to 2016, we show that electoral reform in 1994, and subsequent administrative reforms in the early 2000s, dramatically shifted legislative behavior: speech by cabinet ministers increased, speech by bureaucrats decreased, and “discursive accountability” (government and opposition members responding to one another in debates) increased.

Daniel Smith

Harvard University, Massachusetts

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Max Gopelrud

Harvard University, Massachusetts

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