Three recent publications: Party Capacity in New Democracies; Patterns of Intraparty Competition; Localism and Coordination in the Japanese House of Councillors

The following items have been published in the past several weeks. Please note that the links are to publisher’s websites, and are not open-access.

Abstracts are viewable at the links without a subscription, but I will also put them in (long) footnotes here.

David J. Samuels and Matthew S. Shugart, “Party ‘capacity’ in new democracies: How executive format affects the recruitment of presidents and prime ministers“, Democratization (2013). ((Abstract: Scholars and practitioners express concern that parties in “third wave” democracies are poorly developed, compared to parties in older democracies. We suggest that parties vary in their organizational “capacity”, focusing on parties’ ability to select trustworthy executive agents. Capacity is higher where parties can vet potential executive talent by observing future leaders over time in the legislature – an increasingly available option as democracy matures. The key distinction in parties’ use of this option lies in the delegation structure between a party and the executive. Parliamentary systems offer a clear line of delegation, which parties control. In presidential systems, parties must recruit executive candidates who can win a popular election, requiring characteristics that may not be well correlated with those that make them good party agents. As parliamentary democracy matures, we find a steady increase in prime ministers’ average length of prior legislative service. For presidents, there is significantly weaker growth in prior legislative service. We also theorize about and investigate patterns in semi-presidential democracies. Our findings suggest that the institutional format of the executive is more important for party capacity in new democracies than the era in which a democracy was born.))

Matthew E. Bergman, Matthew S. Shugart, and Kevin A. Watt, “<a href="Matthew E. Bergman, Matthew S. Shugart, and Kevin A. Watt, "Patterns of Intraparty Competition in Open-List and SNTV Systems," Electoral Studies (2013). ((Two electoral systems that use “nontransferable preference votes” are commonly used: single nontransferable vote (SNTV) and open-list proportional representation (OLPR). Both systems promote intraparty competition by vote-seeking candidates, but differ on the extent to which the incentives of individual candidates and collective seat-maximizing parties are aligned, or not. We develop “logical models” of expected vote shares of parties’ first and last winners, and test (and confirm) these models using “symmetric regression” on an original data set drawn from over 2000 party-district observations in nine countries. The analysis helps bring us closer to an understanding of the relatively neglected “intraparty dimension” of representation, and allows us to offer some modest suggestions for improving systems of nontransferable preference votes.))

Kuniaki Nemoto and Matthew S. Shugart, “Localism and Coordination under Three Different Electoral Systems: The National District of the Japanese House of Councillors,” Electoral Studies (2013). ((Democratic representation involves tradeoffs between collective actors – political parties seeking to maximize seats – and individual actors – candidates seeking to use their personal vote-earning attributes (PVEAs) to maximize their own chance of election and reelection. We analyze these tradeoffs across three different electoral systems used at different times for the large-magnitude nationwide tier of Japan’s House of Councillors. These electoral systems – closed and open-list proportional systems and the single non-transferable vote – differ in the extent to which they entail candidates seeking individual preference votes and in whether collective vote shares affect overall party performance. We use local resources as a proxy for PVEA and seek to determine the extent to which parties nominate “locals” and how much the presence of such locals affects party performance at the level of Japan’s prefectures.))

One thought on “Three recent publications: Party Capacity in New Democracies; Patterns of Intraparty Competition; Localism and Coordination in the Japanese House of Councillors

  1. This is from some years but I just found it cleaning out my office:

    “… The ruling party, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), felt the wrath of the electorate, losing power to an unwieldy socialist-led coalition at the 1993 poll.
    This was the party’s first loss of power since its formation in the middle 1950s. Its share of seats in the lower house declined from 59 per cent in 1986, to 54 per cent in 1990, to 44 per cent in 1993. While another scandal (they were coming thick and fast) would topple the Socialists, the LDP was forced to form conservative coalitions to govern from 1996 onwards.
    The Japanese voting system is voluntary. For the period 1945 to 2002, voter turnout averaged just 68.7 per cent, above only Switzerland in the OECD, and well below the average of 80.8 per cent. In the 1990s electoral participation dropped to just 57.6 per cent.
    Until 1994, seats in the lower house were awarded solely from multi-member constituencies. Voters cast a single, non-transferable ballot. In other words, there was no preference system. Each constituency elected between two and six members.
    Under these parameters candidates might enter parliament on the basis of the sixth best return from less than three-fifths of eligible voters. This system was obviously skewed towards the practice of narrow interest group politics. Or putting it another way, broad policy appeal was unnecessary for electoral success.
    The best organised interest groups are those which require political support for their survival. Under the existing electoral structure the Japanese legislature was ill-equipped to resist the siren call of the lobbyists, and when the economy eventually collapsed it was partly under their combined rent seeking weight.
    While advocates of the “new Japan” thesis may point to the election of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2001 as the turning point, the seeds of the Koizumi revival were sewn in 1994 by the electoral reforms of the ill-fated socialist government. The reforms reduced the number of seats from 511 to 500; 300 constituencies were to elect single candidates; and the remainder would be awarded under a system of proportional representation.
    Taking the broom to the narrow interest gerrymander on which the LDP thrived was a critical step on the path to normalisation. Even more importantly the new system presented all candidates, not just the LDP, with a blunt challenge: appeal broadly, or face political extinction. And the broadest constituency in Japan is the urban consumer middle class.
    Single member constituencies and proportional representation meant that serious policy debate could move to the forefront of electioneering.
    No longer could a cabinet be realistically comprised of a vocal advocate of the peach farmers of Nagano prefecture, a man in cahoots with the textile industry on the island of Shikoku, a winner whose campaign was centred around the shipbuilders of Nagasaki, the daughter of a former politician who brought the high speed Shinkansen trains to the isolated villages of snow bitten Niigata, and a nominee of the farm lobby elected by the rice-growing districts of Tohoku. (p 9)
    – Huw McKay, “The Japanese economy rises again: Huw McKay maps the course of the country’s unique nexus of state, capital and labour.” Australian Financial Review (5-9 April 2007), Review p 9.

    Would it be fair to say this has happened as predicted?

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