We examine two related propositions central to the subfield of comparative politics: that candidates for office adopt different electoral strategies under different electoral systems and rely more on particularism when faced with intraparty competition. We apply an innovative methodological approach that combines probabilistic topic modeling with in-depth qualitative interpretations of each topic to an original collection of 7,497 Japanese-language candidate election manifestos used in elections on either side of Japan's 1994 electoral reform. We find that the reform, which eliminated intraparty competition, was associated with a decline in particularism and an increase in promises of programmatic goods such as national security among candidates affiliated with Japan's Liberal Democratic Party. This is not explained by the entry of new candidates or other variables that could plausibly increase discussion of national security. Consistent with the theory, we find that opposition candidates relied on programmatic goods under both electoral systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science