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The Liberal Democratic Party at 50: sources of dominance and changes in the Koizumi era

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Köllner, Patrick

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Abstract More than 50 years after its founding, Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is still going strong. It has become the dominant party within a democratic setting. How did the LDP manage to cling to its dominant position for such a long time? And to what extent has the LDP changed colours under the leadership of Koizumi Jun’ichiro? This survey article attempts to answer these questions by focussing on the three dimensions of LDP dominance: electoral, parliamentary, and executive dominance. It argues that clientelist politics explain a good deal of the success of the LDP in the past. Such an orientation however became decreasingly effective and sustainable in a political environment that has changed significantly since the early 1990s. In the Koizumi era, the LDP managed to rise again to the challenges posed to its dominance by appealing directly to voters, by optimizing electoral cooperation, and by making efforts to centralize policymaking. Whether these more recent approaches to maintaining LDP dominance can be sustained, however, remains an open question.
Keywords Japan; party; political power; political influence; party politics; clientelism; electoral system; election campaign; Far East
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Free Keywords Liberal Democratic Party (Japan); Koizumi, Junichiro; politische Partei
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Page/Pages p. 243-257
Journal Social Science Japan Journal, 9 (2006) 2
ISSN 1369-1465
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.