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Multi-level Political Institution and Party Organization in Japan

Open Panel

Abstract

This paper examines impacts of multi-level political institutions over party organizations. National political parties generally stand across multiple levels of governments and compete for multiple elections. Since governments of different level, even within a same country, sometimes maintain different electoral rules and executive system, such divergence might cause mismatch and deteriorate cohesion and discipline of political parties. To test the impact of mismatch of political institutions at multi-level government over party organizations, we analyze questionnaire surveys that we have conducted to Japanese assemblymen at both of national and local legislatures. In Japan, the electoral rule was changed from SNTV (single non-transferable vote) to MMM (mixed member majoritarian: SMD plus closed list PR) for the lower House of national legislature in 1994 and party discipline and executive leadership was said to be strengthened. I agree such a general trend based on the supremacy of the lower House in Japanese constitution. However, if we consider the electoral rule for the upper House (SNTV plus open list PR) and the electoral rule (SNTV) and the executive system (presidential) of local governments and their impacts over main political parties, we should revise our straight forward expectation of strong leadership. Rather, we could understand why it takes so long to achieve strong leadership, and why major political parties are still suffering from their weak cohesion. This paper attempts to show relative autonomy of upper House legislators and local assemblymen with our questionnaire surveys as an empirical evidence of mismatch in multiple political institutions.