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Lawyers and law graduates in parliaments as a consequence of SMD electoral systems: a comparison of Japan, South Korea, and Germany

  • Devin K. Joshi (a1)

Abstract

This study addresses the question of why so many of the world's legislators are lawyers or law graduates. Drawing from previous studies on lawyer-legislators and electoral systems, it develops the argument that ‘first-pass-the-post’ single-member district electoral systems presume a principal-agent logic of representation and are therefore conducive to political parties selecting representatives with either occupational experience or educational training in the field of law. By contrast, proportional representation (PR) elections presume a microcosm model of representation incentivizing parties to select candidates representing diverse demographic and occupational backgrounds. This conjecture is tested by examining legislator backgrounds in three large parliaments with mixed electoral systems: Germany, Japan, and South Korea. As expected, single-member plurality elections are linked to a greater share of lawyers and law graduates in parliaments compared to those elected via PR even after controlling for several alternative explanations.

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References

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