Removing Boundaries, Losing Connections: Electoral Consequences of Local Government Reform in Japan
Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 15, No 1, pp. 99-125, January-April 2015
40 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 9 Feb 2015
Date Written: September 3, 2014
This paper examines the role of local politicians in affecting national-level election outcomes by focusing on the drastic municipal mergers in Japan that took place in the early 2000s. Specifically, we argue that the political party that relies most extensively on local politicians’ efforts for electoral mobilization and monitoring will suffer an electoral slump when municipalities are merged and the number of municipal politicians is swiftly reduced. We empirically show that municipalities with a history of mergers exhibit significantly lower voter turnout and obtain a smaller vote share for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in national elections when compared to other municipalities without an experience of mergers. This result indicates that municipal politicians are indispensable human resources for LDP candidates running for the national parliament.
Keywords: municipal mergers, mobilization, participation, turnout, Liberal Democratic Party, Japan
JEL Classification: D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
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