Intra-Party Dynamics and Preferences for Electoral System Change

Stream: Panel 33 - Comparative Politics: Cabinets, Parties and Different Models of Democracy 
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


What explains individual legislators’ motivation for electoral system change? This study theorizes the relationship between intraparty politics and a preference for electoral system reform in order to explain why some legislators support a certain type of electoral system and others do not. While a number of researchers have analyzed the causes of electoral system changes by focusing on country-level macro factors—such as socioeconomic development and elite–mass interaction—little is known about individual legislators’ preferences for electoral system change, and how these preferences vary within and between parties. The central argument of this paper is to regard motivation for electoral system change as a function of the ideological gap between individual legislators and the overall party position within parties. Internal ideological deviation within parties creates incentives to support electoral institutions, which result in weak party discipline and a decentralized party organization. By analyzing elite survey data on parliamentary candidates for Japan’s general elections in 2009 and 2012, I identify empirical evidence that ideologically peripheral parliamentary candidates within parties are more likely to support weak party discipline and candidate-centered electoral systems. Specifically, the widening ideological gap between individual legislators and the overall party position gives rise to their incentives to support a typical candidate-centered electoral system, single non-transferable vote (SNTV). This provides a micro foundation for institutional changes and clarifies the theoretical link between individual legislators’ electoral incentives for electoral system changes.


Hiroki Kubo (Presenter), Osaka University
I am a recent PhD from the Department of Political Science at Rice University and Assistant Professor at Osaka University starting June 2016. My research interests include comparative political institutions, political parties, electoral systems, and legislative studies, with a regional research specialization in the Asia-Pacific region.