The Causes of Electoral Reform in Japan

Steven R. Reed and Michael F. Thies

in Mixed-Member Electoral Systems

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780199257683
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600241 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

 The Causes of Electoral Reform in Japan

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This chapter, on the causes of electoral reform in Japan, reviews the movement from an extreme electoral (hyper‐personalistic) system in which candidates of the same party competed against one another in three‐ to five‐seat districts (in a single non‐transferable vote system, SNTV) to a mixed‐member majoritarian (MMM) system that eliminated intraparty competition. It is argued that short‐term act‐contingent motivations played a necessary role in passing political reform, and that by January 1994, when the reform bills finally passed into law, no politician could publicly oppose political reform, even though some felt freer to grumble about it. The main sections of the chapter are: The Pathologies of SNTV: Who Hated What?; A Brief History of Failed Electoral Reform Efforts—1956 to 1991; The Fall and Rise of the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party): Electoral Reform in 1993–4; Analysis: The Causes of Electoral Reform.

Keywords: electoral history; electoral reform; electoral systems; extreme electoral systems; hyper‐personalistic systems; Japan; Liberal Democratic Party; mixed‐member electoral systems; mixed‐member majoritarian systems; party competition; single non‐transferable vote system

Chapter.  9935 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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