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“Too Many Parties but None to Choose From? The Paradox of Opposition Fragmentation in Mixed-Member Majoritarian Systems” by Hikaru Yamagishi

July 2, 2021 @ 9:00 am 10:00 am JST

Special ad hoc session for a student on the market.

Registration required!

Author: Hikaru Yamagishi (Yale).

Abstract: In the most recent Japanese general election (2017), a leading reason for voter abstention was a lack of appropriate political parties from which to choose. How could this be the case when candidates ran from as many as 20 parties? I posit that in mixed-member electoral systems in which winning plurality races is key to becoming the government party, voters perceive party proliferation not as an expansion of choice but as a lack of majority-seeking parties. A numerous choice of parties makes it more difficult for voters to believe that any one party can unseat the incumbent, thus making it less likely that they would engage with the political process. More broadly, I argue that two paradoxical features face voters in mixed-member majoritarian systems: the provision of varied choice in the proportional representation component, and the necessity for opposition coordination in the majoritarian component. To test my theory, I conduct a survey experiment in Japan, measuring the effect of the individual’s perception of opposition coordination on political engagement.

Discussants: Lucia Motolinia (Washington University).

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