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Coalition Governments, Party Switching, and the Rise and Decline of Parties: Changing Japanese Party Politics since 1993

  • JUNKO KATO (a1) and YUTO KANNON (a2)

Abstract

Since 1993, coalition governments have replaced the 38-year-long, one-party dominance of the Liberal Democratic Party (the LDP) in Japan. Except for one year, from 1993 to 1994, the LDP has remained a key party in successive governing coalitions, but the dynamics of party competition has been completely transformed since the period of the LDP's dominance. Although the LDP has survived to form a variety of coalitions ranging from a minority to an over-sized majority, since 1998 the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has continued to counter the LDP governments. The transformation of party systems in Japan accompanies the party switching of legislators and the mergers, breakups, extinctions, and formations of parties. In this regard, the Japanese case provides an interesting example to show how parties attempt to change the dynamics of policy competition by switching and reorganizing. Parties also attempt to shift their policy positions to attract public support and to gain a competitive edge in government formation. Using expert survey data about the policy positions of parties, this study explicates the dynamics involved in the reorganization of parties and the formation of governments.

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