District Medians and Median Districts: Electoral Adaptation in Post 1994 Japan
Frances McCall Rosenbluth
Yale University - Department of Political Science
Mathew D. McCubbins
International University of Japan - Graduate School of International Relations
August 22, 2012
APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper
There is considerable evidence supporting the prediction of spatial models of politics that parties adapt to electoral rules. But as in economic markets, adaptation can occur either when parties behave strategically in the face of new incentives, or when electoral competition at the district level weeds out maladapted candidates, creating more optimal party configurations from the bottom up. Although both processes can happen simultaneously, top-down strategic adaptation is easier when districts occupied by party incumbents are internally heterogeneous with respect to voter preferences and the range of preferences is similar across districts. Conversely, parties are hard to manage when their districts are internally homogeneous but different from one another. Following electoral rule change in 1994, an incumbency cartel within the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party slowed down but did not stop the Party’s move to the national median. Electoral competition is apparently pushing both parties towards a left-right continuum as they orient themselves around urban swing districts. This adaptation gives business cycles a larger role in Japanese electoral politics than ever before.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 35
Keywords: electoral adaptation, median voter, median district, electoral competition, business cycles
Date posted: July 15, 2012 ; Last revised: August 25, 2012
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