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Personal Attributes of Legislators and Parliamentary Behavior: An Analysis of Parliamentary Activities among Japanese Legislators*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 February 2015

YOSHIKUNI ONO
Affiliation:
School of Law, Tohoku University, Japanonoy@law.tohoku.ac.jp
Corresponding
E-mail address:

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 about what they can do for them and how they differ from other 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.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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Footnotes

*

The author would like to thank Kentaro Fukumoto, Ryan Hartley, Kuniaki Nemoto, Jonson N. Porteux, and six anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on earlier drafts. This research was supported by the Murata Science Foundation Research Grant, Japanese Association of Electoral Studies Overseas Conference Grant, and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (26780078).

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