Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2005
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Assistant Professor, Henry M. jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington
Effects of Electoral Reform in Japan, Italy, and New Zealand

Unusually, three major parliamentary democracies reformed their electoral systems independently and almost simultaneously in the early 1990s in similar directions. This offers the political scientist an exceptional opportunity to study important common issues in the relationship among electoral systems, political parties, aod legislative organization in advanced industrialized democracies . This project studies political parties ' organization and legislative organization in Japan, Italy, and New Zealand after major changes in their electoral systems. I believe this fits in perfectly with the "Problems Common to Industrial and Industrializing Societies" theme of the Abe Fellowship Research Agenda . This project would build upon my preliminary research on the effects of electoral reform in Japan in 1994 on three features of the Liberal Democratic Party-factions, koenkai, and PARC-that political scientists had said were heavily determined by the electoral system. A co-author and I found that, surprisingly, these institutions had not disappeared but remained with varying degrees of vitality . This constituted an important analytical puzzle, because predictions of their extinction had been founded upon quite well-established and reasonable political science theories. This new research would greatly extend the preliminary research in three directions: historically/theoretically, comparatively, and quantitatively . First, the persistence of political party organizational features despite sound theoretical reasons to expect their demise requires a theoretical, not simply empirical response. In short, theories and understandings of institutional development must be grounded in temporal processes, but this must be more densely theorized than simply attributed to "path dependency ." I will conduct archival research on the origins in the late 1950s and early 1960s of these institutions, as well as continuing my contemporary research. The second extension of this research is comparative. Japan, Italy, and New Zealand all reformed their electoral system almost within a year of each other to a mixed-member system. However, these systems had very different starting points, as well as some differences in the type of MM system adopted. Because of the clarity of the independent variable, as well as the temporal proximity of the change and the similarities of the adopted system (but different prior systems), this is a wonderful opportunity for a comparative study of the effects of electoral reform. The third extension, construction of a database, will also be an important part of this research. The database will include legislators of all political parties for as extensive a time period as feasible (e.g. 1980-present at a minimum for LDP, inception to present for DPJ). I will also code and input electoral and district level variables ( electoral variables such as votes won, district characteristics such as rural-urbanness), personal variables for the legislator (e.g., gender, or ex-bureaucrat, ex-local politician), and legislative organization variables (all party posts such as PARC committee chairmanships and vice-chairmanships, Diet committee posts, government post such as Minister ). This database will be invaluable for longitudinal and comparative study.