Personal attributes of legislators and parliamentary behavior: An analysis of parliamentary activities among Japanese legislators

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Abstract

This study explores the individual-level activities of legislators in parliament, which have been largely ignored in the literature on parliamentary democracies. Individual legislators are extensively involved in parliamentary activities such as drafting private members' bills and posing questions, even though these activities have only been considered to play marginal roles in parliamentary democracies. Moreover, their engagement varies significantly. By using unique data from Japan, this study demonstrates that the personal attributes of legislators affect their choice of parliamentary activities. Under electoral systems with intra-party competition, legislators use parliamentary activities as an important means to inform their constituents aboutwhat they can do for them and howthey differ fromother legislators. In elections, candidates cultivate personal votes by exploiting the image drawn from their personal attributes and, once elected, they behave in accordance with their attributes in order to maintain their electoral ground. Thus, they devote themselves to different activities in parliament. The data analyzed here support this argument. The results of empirical analyses show that legislators with local-level political experience engage in particularistic pork-barrel activities that will benefit their local interests, while legislators with legal-work experience allocate their time and energy to general policy-making activities that will enhance their public image and visibility as legal experts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-95
Number of pages28
JournalJapanese Journal of Political Science
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Feb 10

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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