The Logic of Ministerial Selection

Electoral System and Cabinet Appointments in Japan

Article appearing in Social Science Japan Journal

  • Co-Author:
  • Robert Pekkanen with Benjamin Nyblade, Ellis S. Krauss
  • Publisher: Oxford Academic
  • Date: December 19, 2013
Social Science Japan Journal

Does the kind of electoral system affect the type of members of parliament appointed to the cabinet in a parliamentary system? The literature on electoral reform has investigated many political consequences of changing an electoral system, but whether appointments to cabinets change too has not been investigated. Conversely, there have been many analyses of cabinet selection but they have not investigated any linkage to the type of electoral system. One reason for this is the lack of theory concerning how electoral systems impact party strategies for ministerial appointments. We suggest that the intervening factor is how parties balance their competing goals of vote-seeking, office-seeking and policy-seeking. If cabinet appointments provide an arena where parties balance these three goals, then we should observe a change in this balancing strategy, and in ministerial appointments, following the introduction of different incentives inherent in a new electoral system. To that end, we conducted an empirical test of Liberal Democratic Party cabinet appointments before and after the 1994 electoral reform. We demonstrate that the change in electoral system led the party to rebalance its priorities and consequently adapt its strategy for ministerial appointments.