The Consequences 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 Consequences of Electoral Reform in Japan

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In January 1994, the Japanese Diet (Parliament) passed two major political reform laws, the first changing the system used to elect its Lower House (the House of Representatives) and the second aimed at cleaning up campaign finance practices. After this, Japanese parties, candidates, and voters were faced with a completely new set of rules for Lower House elections, and the purpose of this chapter is to assess the effects of this electoral system revision. First describes the old electoral system, in which the members of the Lower House were elected by single, non‐transferable vote (SNTV) from multi‐member districts, and the new one, which is a mixed‐member majoritarian (MMM) system; key changes are pointed out. The following two sections describe the political changes that seem to have followed from the electoral reform, discussing first the interparty dimension (party‐system consequences) and second, the intraparty dimension (party organization and personalistic politics), with specific reference to whether or not the MMM system has solved the problems of the SNTV system (intraparty competition and its personalistic consequences) and thereby increased the efficiency of the electoral system. The last part briefly discusses the inadequacy of equilibrium‐based analyses for the study of dynamic processes.

Keywords: electoral efficiency; electoral reform; electoral systems; intraparty competition; Japan; mixed‐member electoral systems; mixed‐member majoritarian systems; party system; personalistic politics; political reform; single non‐transferable vote system

Chapter.  11165 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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