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Dynasties and Democracy
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Table of Contents

Contents and Abstracts1Introduction: Dynasties in Democracies chapter abstract

This chapter introduces the puzzle of "democratic dynasties" and Japan's unusually high level of dynastic politics compared to other democracies. The chapter briefly reviews the existing explanations for the causes of dynastic politics, and then summarizes the new theoretical argument that is offered in the book, as well as the background context of the case of Japan and the research design used to test the argument. Finally, the chapter discusses the potential positive and negative consequences of democratic dynasties and provides an outline of the book's remaining chapters.

2Putting Japan into Comparative Perspective chapter abstract

This chapter gives a descriptive overview of the empirical record using the book's two original data sets. The first aim is to situate the case of Japan in a broader comparative context and highlight some of the puzzles in the aggregate variation in dynastic politics across countries, parties, and time. The second aim is to explore the empirical patterns in Japan in order to establish that these patterns provide insufficient insight into the sources of Japan's high level of dynastic politics. There are few differences between legacy candidates and non-legacy candidates in terms of personal characteristics, experience, education, or background-apart from their legacy ties-which might explain their greater electoral success. The third aim is to demonstrate that alternative theories based on history or culture do not provide credible explanations for the empirical differences between Japan and other democracies.

3A Comparative Theory of Dynastic Candidate Selection chapter abstract

This chapter introduces a comparative theory of dynastic candidate selection based on a framework of supply and demand within the institutional contexts of electoral systems and candidate selection methods. On the supply side, incumbents who serve longer terms in office, and who are themselves part of an existing dynasty, will be more likely to have family members who select into politics. However, relative demand for their potential successors will be higher where electoral institutions generate candidate-centered elections, and in parties where candidate selection processes are exclusive and decentralized, leaving much of the decision up to local party actors-in Japan's case, primarily the support groups of exiting candidates. Demand for legacy candidates should also be higher in parties with weak organizational linkages to groups in civil society and when the previous incumbent dies in office. Comparative evidence is presented in support of the theory.

4Selection: From Family Business to Party Priority chapter abstract

This chapter examines dynastic candidate selection in Japan under the single nontransferable vote (SNTV) electoral system and the changes that have occurred since the adoption of a mixed-member majoritarian (MMM) system, which combines first-past-the-post and closed-list proportional representation. Dynasties under SNTV were more common in larger, decentralized parties-especially the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The MMM system shifted the focus of elections from candidates to parties. Subsequent party reforms within the LDP have expanded the pool of candidates and placed greater control over nominations with national-level party leaders, who have selected a more diverse range of candidates. Legacy candidates are still nominated, but recently, only the most powerful and longest-serving incumbents are likely to be succeeded in politics by a family member. This suggests that demand-side incentives have changed, leaving mainly supply-side incentives to explain the continued persistence of dynastic politics.

5Election: The Inherited Incumbency Advantage chapter abstract

This chapter explores the inherited incumbency advantage in elections, the mechanisms behind the advantage, and how it differs in the prereform and postreform electoral environments of Japan. New legacy candidates are decidedly advantaged over non-legacy candidates in both SNTV and FPTP elections. However, there is also a selection effect in terms of where legacy candidates emerge. In the prereform period, legacy candidates followed strong incumbents, whose exit freed up votes and encouraged the entry of competitive challengers. In the postreform period, legacy candidates are most likely to get nominated in party strongholds where any new candidate might be similarly successful, and challengers tend to be weaker. Evidence from traditional surveys and a conjoint survey experiment suggests that voters in Japan do not like the idea of dynasties in the abstract sense, even as they continue to elect specific legacy candidates in their own local districts.

6Promotion: Dynastic Dominance in the Cabinet chapter abstract

This chapter evaluates the advantage of dynastic ties in promotion to cabinet. Before 1970, legacy members of parliament-particularly those whose predecessors had served in cabinet-were overrepresented in most cabinets. From 1970 to 1993, seniority rule and factional balancing functioned as informal institutions constraining the choices of LDP prime ministers, and legacy MPs enjoyed no apparent advantage. In the years since electoral reform, legacy MPs are again dramatically overrepresented in LDP cabinets. For those whose predecessors never served in cabinet, this advantage is due in large part to seniority. Legacy MPs with a family history in the cabinet, conversely, enjoy a significant advantage in promotion that cannot be explained simply by seniority. It is likely that the relatives of former cabinet ministers benefit from internal party networks or other informational advantages within the party. The advantage of cabinet legacies is evident in several of the comparative country cases.

7The Consequences of Dynastic Politics for Representation chapter abstract

This chapter considers several potential downstream effects of dynastic politics on the functioning of democracy and the quality of representation, including effects on gender representation, the representational style of candidates, and legislative behavior. There is a clear pattern across democracies and in Japan of a gender bias in dynastic politics. However, this bias tends to decrease over time. An analysis of the policy content of candidate manifestos suggests that dynasties provide some continuity in representation for voters, which may be part of their appeal. There is less evidence that legacy MPs are any more active in the legislature than non-legacy MPs. Although cabinet legacies tend to speak more in plenary sessions of the Diet since electoral reform, there are no other obvious differences in the legislative activity of legacy and non-legacy MPs.

8Conclusion: Family Fiefdoms and Party Politics chapter abstract

This chapter concludes the book by drawing together the key empirical findings and reflecting on the lessons that Japan's experience with dynastic politics might hold for other democracies, such as India and the Philippines, where dynasties have been viewed as a growing problem in recent years, and Ireland, where politics is still in many ways a family affair. The key challenge is how to transform party organizations from decentralized cadres of local notables into coherent vehicles for programmatic policies. The experience of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, viewed through the lens of dynastic politics, sheds important light on the possibilities and challenges involved in institutional design and reform.

About the Author

Daniel M. Smith is Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Harvard University.

Reviews

"Daniel Smith's Dynasties and Democracy is a triumph of expositional clarity and measurement. It is hard to think of a sharper evaluation of the effects of political institutions on the quality and nature of democratic competition." -- Frances McCall Rosenbluth * Yale University *
"Smith's book on dynastic politicians in Japan is a gem. He firmly and usefully places Japan into the comparative context through extensive presentation and analysis of data in other countries. His analysis will become the standard explanation for dynastic politicians in Japan. The prolific anecdotes and illustrations will also make this book appealing in classrooms." -- Robert J. Pekkanen * University of Washington *
"As E. E. Schattschneider put it, 'he who can make the nominations is the owner of the party.' Dynasties and Democracy investigates parties in which such 'ownership' is effectively inheritable, giving rise to political family dynasties. It provides both a fascinating comparative study of nominations and the most compelling analysis to date of democratic dynasties." -- Gary W. Cox * Stanford University *
"This deep dive into the phenomenon of democratic electoral dynasties is a valuable contribution to the comparative politics literature, not the least because the author makes good use of comparable findings from the Philippines and established democracies beyond Asia, such as the US, Ireland, and Israel. The puzzle presented by the high rate of such dynasties in the Japanese Diet by comparison with other liberal democracies and their implications for governing tie together the book's narrative and empirical findings....Recommended." -- J.C. Hickman * CHOICE *
"Finding the right balance between a deep understanding of a given context and a broader perspective on political phenomena is difficult. There is no doubt that Daniel M. Smith succeeds in his book...This is part of a much broader comparative endeavour that has the potential to reinvent the study of institutionalized political actors. Some scholars are better than others at maximizing the output from such data and Smith is among the best." -- Marc Andre Bodet * Cahiers d'etudes africaines *
"Daniel Smith demonstrates that political institutions, especially electoral systems and candidate selection procedures, influence the dominance of political dynasties in Japan, thereby countering the view that the dominance is merely a reflection of Japan's indigenous traditions and culture.Smith tests the fascinating hypothesis persuasively by using extensive data and sophisticated methods and paints a vivid picture of the reality of Japanese politics." -- Yosuke Sunahara * Japanese Journal of Political Science *
"Utilizing mixed methods and exploring multiple dimensions of the subject, Smith successfully lays out a comprehensive and in-depth study of democratic dynasties....[The] findings of this book are valuable not just for those who study Japanese politics but also for those who are interested in politics in other areas as well." -- Hironori Sasada * Japanese Studies *
"[Few] studies have sought to understand the wide variation in dynastic politicians across democracies over time. Dynasties and Democracy offers a comprehensive answer to this question....certainly a key referent for future work to understand the existence of dynasties in democracies." -- Carlos Velasco Rivera * Political Science Quarterly *
"Anyone with any questions about hereditary politicians and the implications of this phenomenon for democracy and politics would be well served to study this book. Not only is the list of questions addressed comprehensive, Smith also comes at every question with a wealth of data, not just data about Japanese elections and politicians (around which much of the book is based), but also data about comparable countries that have high frequencies of hereditary politicians." -- Ray Christensen * Party Politics *
"[The] most compelling analysis to date of dynasties in democracies in general, and in Japan's 'land of the rising sons' in particular....required reading for anyone interested in democratic politics more broadly and in the puzzle of political dynasties in democracies." -- Matthew Carlson * Perspectives on Politics *
"Dynasties and Democracy is destined to be on the syllabi of Japanese politics courses for many years to come, and indeed it hould also be required reading for all students of electoral politics. Smith lays out his sophisticated theoretical project with ease while helping us see the people and institutions that populate the world of Japanese politics. Dynasties and Democracy is political science at its very best, and Smith one of the field's sharpest voices." -- Sheila A. Smith * The Journal of Asian Studies *
"Dynasties and Democracy gives a valuable and detailed look into the puzzling phenomenon of legacy politics in Japan while placing Japan's experience in comparative context. It is a data-rich, thoroughly researched, and accessibly written book....An invaluable resource for scholars of Japanese and comparative electoral and party politics." -- Mary Alice Haddad * Monumenta Nipponica *
"Smith's book can be credited with taking a markedly different approach to the topic of second-generation Diet members, one that is innovative....[This] book deserves to be seen as an outstanding work of scholarship." -- Satoshi Machidori * Social Science Japan Journal *
"[One] of the most fully researched studies of Japanese politics to appear in recent years....[This] book should be recommended as a powerful study of dynastic politics in Japan and a valuable contribution to the understanding of political dynasties more generally. It should be on any reading list in courses on Japanese politics and comparative courses on parliamentary democracy." -- Arthur Stockwin * Journal of Japanese Studies *

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