«by Dyron Keith Dabney A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science) ...»
In a two-person competition, candidates with the resources to construct a Type A organizational campaign that could bring in a substantial portion of the 501 voters needed for victory would be substantially advantaged. In the US and elsewhere, other things being equal, the smaller the district, the more susceptible election campaigns have been to the kind of organizational mobilization we have characterized as Type A strategy (Maisel and Buckley, 2004).What about 2000?
To account for the counterintuitive fact that the electoral reform actually brought more Type A campaigning in 1996, we proposed three contingent or situational explanations, and one general one. Evidence from the second post-reform election, the 2000 Lower House election, should give us an idea of how well these explanations hold up.
The results for Matsuzawa were clearly shown in Chapter 3. His efforts swung decisively back to Type B. Type A organizational efforts were somewhat more extensive than in 1993, but it was clear that in 2000 he mostly relied on the foundations he had built in 1996. Matsuzawa himself cited his Type B appeal to ordinary voters for much of his success. (Of course, an alternative explanation is complacency—he had won easily in
had opposition from that party, and the LDP ran the same candidate who had been badly beaten last time, an indication it did not think Matsuzawa could be defeated.) The results for Genba were equally showcased in Chapter 4. Like Matsuzawa, Genba also moved somewhat toward the Type B strategy in 2000, notably taking advantage of the fact that his LDP opponent was not the SMD winner in the 1996 race (he was the PR incumbent, running for the SMD seat following a Costa Rico switch). The opponent was aged 65, to Genba’s 36, and Genba attributed the hike in turnout to his direct appeals to younger voters and voters looking for a vibrant candidate. Still, Fukushima was still rural and Genba’s campaign was still quite Type A.
Including these further considerations from 2000, then, we can summarize our
observations about the central hypotheses as follows:
First, we can reject the view that a sufficient explanation for the distinctive characteristics of Japanese campaign behavior—in brief, the prevelance of Type A strategies—is the multi-member district. Our evidence shows clearly that abolishing multi-member districts in Lower House elections, moving to a single-member plus proportional representation system, did not bring a major immediate shift to Type B.
Second, having said that, evidence from 2000 (and indeed from subsequent elections not covered in this dissertation) indicates a longer-term trend toward Type B strategies, perhaps implying that the impact of electoral reform is delayed.
Third, none the less, the substantial weight of Type A strategies still demands more explanation. The likely possibilities are distinctive values and norms in the Japanese public, and Japan’s highly restrictive electoral regulations that inadvertently
behaviors they were originally designed to counter.
The Broader Context This dissertation has been limited to district-level campaign strategies for Lower House elections in one decade. A lot has happened in Japanese politics outside this quite limited sphere that is relevant to our concerns.
First, in the party system, Japan moved toward something approximating a twoparty system in the “normal” or “Western” sense, where two large, relatively moderate parties could plausibly get enough votes to run the government.
Second, the dominant Liberal-Democratic Party was taken over, for a time, by Koizumi Jun’ichiro, who was a genuine reformist in at least two significant ways. On the one hand, he vowed to do away with traditional LDP political practices, including everything we have associated with the Type A campaign strategy. On the other, he pursued an explicit neo-liberal policy agenda, thereby bringing to the fore the kind of issues seen as central to Type B campaigning.
The institutional changes of the early 1990s, including electoral reform, were one among several factors that led to both these developments, and conversely the developments themselves affected electoral strategies. Indeed the same sorts of experts who were forecasting a big move to Type B politics back in the 90s, and were so disappointed, were again proclaiming the advent of new politics (i.e. Type B) in the early 2000s.
experts were again disappointed. The counterreformation that coincided with Koizumi’s departure involved both political practice and public policy. Traditionalists in both senses have an edge in the LDP, and indeed are well represented in the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, to the point that pundits are looking toward a reorganization of the entire party system. Short of that, the general election to be held during 2009 is likely to depose the LDP, and certainly will lead to big changes in many aspects of Japanese politics.
One of the most fundamental aspects likely to be affected is democratic accountability. As noted in the introductory chapter, criticisms of the old electoral system and hopes for electoral reform very much centered on accountability, so that the opinions of voters about public policies and how they should be carried out would be better reflected in the legislature and beyond.
There is no question that the persistence of Type A campaign behavior as documented in this dissertation has inhibited the development of democratic accountability in Lower House elections. The likelihood of change may rest on how developments in national politics affect voters’ attitudes, and eventually norms. Reform of election campaign regulations could also make a substantial difference.
All that is well beyond the scope of this dissertation. What our research contributes to this discussion is, first, that an important determinant of the effect of such broad shifts on accountability will be via alterations in campaign practices as described here, and second, that the gradual evolution of how candidates perceive their best
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