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Journal Articles

∇ Fred Cutler, Andrea Nuesser and Benjamin Nyblade. “Satisfaction with Democracy: The Impact of Institutions, Contexts, and Attitudes.” Forthcoming, Canadian Journal of Political Science. Link

Abstract: In this paper we examine existing research on citizens’ Satisfaction with Democracy (SWD) and offer a new direction for research. We propose an encompassing theoretical model of institutional and individual-level determinants of citizens’ satisfaction with democracy and then estimate that model with cross-national survey and macro data. We begin with a well-specified individual-level model of SWD distinct from a model of the effects of institutions on the individual-level determinants. Then we elaborate an empirical theory of SWD that specifies the relationship from contextual factors (especially institutions) through the individual-level mediators, to the outcome – Satisfaction with Democracy. We then employ multilevel structural equation (mediation) estimation (Preacher et al., 2010) to estimate our model on a merged dataset of European Social Survey and country-level contextual data. The results provide a more solid theoretical and empirical grounding for findings that citizens’ judgments of democracy are based mostly in outputs and lived experience, not in institutional variation or its political consequences.

∇ Elizabeth Iams Wellman, Nathan Allen and Benjamin Nyblade, “The Extraterritorial Voting Rights and Restrictions Dataset, 1950-2020.” Forthcoming, Comparative Political Studies. Link

Abstract: This paper introduces the Extraterritorial Rights and Restrictions dataset (EVRR), the first global time-series dataset of non-resident citizen voting policies and procedures. Although there have been previous efforts to document external voting, no existing data source simultaneously captures the scale (195 countries), time frame (71 years), and level of detail concerning extraterritorial voting rights and restrictions (over 20 variables). After a brief overview of prior datasets, we introduce EVRR coding criteria with a focus on conceptual clarity and transparency. Descriptive analysis of the dataset reveals both the steady expansion of extraterritorial voting as well as several regional and a temporal trends of voting rights restrictions. Finally, we extend the work of two groundbreaking cross-national studies focused on the causes and effects of external voting rights. Using EVRR data we demonstrate that including more fine-grained aspects of extraterritorial voting provisions in these analyses improves our understanding of important political and economic outcomes.

∇ Benjamin Nyblade, Elizabeth Iams Wellman and Nathan Allen, “Transnational Voting Rights and Policies in Violent Democracies: A Global Comparison.” Comparative Migration Studies 10(27). July 2022. Link

Abstract: In recent decades more than one hundred countries have enfranchised their diasporas, allowing emigrants to vote from abroad. However, this widespread formal recognition of extraterritorial voting rights does not always lead to increased participation of emigrants in home country politics. Migrant-sending countries have complex relationships with their diasporas, and this relationship is particularly fraught for countries with endemic violence. This article leverages a new dataset documenting the adoption and implementation of extraterritorial voting rights and restrictions for 195 countries from 1950 to 2020 to demonstrate how transnational voting rights and policies in violent democracies difer from other regimes. While violent democracies extend transnational voting rights to their emigrants at rates comparable to other regime types, they are less likely to implement those rights, and when they do implement them, they are more likely to restrict them to insulate domestic politics from external influence.

∇ Charles Corbett, Hal Hershfeld, Henry Kim, Timothy Malloy, Benjamin Nyblade and Alison Partie, “The Role of Place Attachment and Environmental Attitudes in Adoption of Rooftop Solar.” Energy Policy 2022 (162): 112674. March 2022. Link

Abstract: Prior research on adoption of rooftop solar has investigated various economic and psychological factors contributing to or impeding adoption. One psychological factor that has been linked to environmental behavior in other settings, but not yet in the context of rooftop solar, is place attachment, an individual’s sense of attachment to their community. Using a survey of over 3700 homeowners in Los Angeles County, we examine the impact of place attachment, relative to that of pro-environmental attitudes, on the decision whether to consider rooftop solar and on the decision whether to adopt it. We find that an otherwise average homeowner with pro-environmental attitudes one unit above the mean is 5.66 percentage points more likely to consider rooftop solar, while the effect of place attachment on consideration is not significant. However, among respondents who consider rooftop solar, an otherwise average homeowner with one unit stronger place attachment is 7.59 percentage points more likely to adopt, while the effect of pro-environmental attitudes on adoption is not significant. Policymakers seeking to encourage adoption of rooftop solar should contemplate leveraging place attachment, and should recognize that different policy mechanisms will be effective for homeowners in general than for those who are already considering.

∇ Eric Merkley, Fred Cutler, Paul Quirk and Benjamin Nyblade, “Hearing their Voice: Authority, Voice, and Satisfaction with Democracy.” Journal of Politics 81(3): 848-61. July 2019. PDF

Abstract: As studies using macrolevel evidence have shown, citizens are more satisfied with democracy when they feel that their instrumental preferences are represented in government, and this feeling is more likely in nonmajoritarian institutional contexts. Scholars have given less attention to whether such institutions also increase satisfaction by providing more inclusive political discourse. Citizens may value having their voice represented in politics, regardless of the resulting authority. This article presents the first microlevel evidence of this mechanism by having subjects experience a simulated election campaign that manipulates both the political discourse and the outcome independently. We find that subjects were less satisfied with democracy when their party lost the election, but this effect disappeared when the campaign discourse featured thorough discussion of an issue that they felt was important. The findings suggest that institutions and party systems that provide more diverse voices may soften the blow of losing elections.

∇ Douglas Lichtman and Benjamin Nyblade, “Naughty Bits: An Empirical Study of What Consumers Would Mute and Excise from Hollywood Fare if Only They Could.” Journal of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A. 66(2): 227-72. Spring 2019. Link

Abstract: Should parents have the freedom to block potentially offensive language, sexuality, and violence from the films their children watch at home? Should an adult with reservations about explicit material be allowed to experience Titanic without that film’s one notorious nude scene, or Schindler’s List without its most uncomfortable audio and video moments? And are these freedoms rightly limited by the relevant decisionmaker’s ability to engage the fast-forward and mute buttons quickly enough, or should copyright law make room for more sophisticated solutions, even over the objections of a hostile copyright community? In this Article, we offer a unique contribution to this long-running debate: detailed data about what consumers would mute and excise from Hollywood films if only they could. Specifically, we report on the decisions made by roughly 300,000 viewers as they filtered and then watched nearly 4 million movie streams during calendar year 2016. The data, we argue, make a strong case in favor of a permissive copyright regime where viewers would have significant freedom to filter films according to their own religious, moral, and public policy convictions.

∇ Katharina P. Coleman and Benjamin Nyblade, “Peacekeeping for Profit? The Scope and Limits of ‘Mercenary’ UN Peacekeeping.” Journal of Peace Research 55(6): 726-41. November 2018. PDF

Abstract: Developing states furnish the vast majority of UN peacekeeping troops, a fact academics and policymakers often attribute (at least partly) to developing states’ supposed ability to derive a profit from UN peacekeeping reimbursements. In this article, we argue that this ‘peacekeeping for profit’ narrative has been vastly overstated. The conditions for significantly profiting from UN peacekeeping are in fact highly restrictive, even for developing states. We begin by highlighting two potent reasons for re-examining the peacekeeping for profit narrative: developing states emerged as the UN’s principal troop contributors in a period of stagnant reimbursement rates when UN peacekeeping was becoming less financially attractive; and the quantitative evidence scholars have presented as supporting the peacekeeping for profit narrative is flawed. We then identify the scope conditions within which peacekeeping for profit provides a plausible explanation for a developing state’s UN troop contributions. First, the deployment and its attendant reimbursements must be significant not only in absolute and per soldier terms but also in relation to the state’s total armed forces and military expenditure. Second, the state must have an exceptional ability, compared with other troop contributors, to benefit from UN reimbursements. The scope for generalized profit-making from either equipment or personnel contributions is limited by intense political pressure against reimbursement rate increases. Individual states can nevertheless make a profit if they (1) invest in inexpensive and old but functional equipment, especially if deployed with usage restrictions, and/or (2) limit the deployment allowances (rather than salaries) they pay their peacekeepers. We establish that only a limited subset of developing states meets the plausibility conditions for the peacekeeping for profit narrative – and many top UN troop contributors do not.

∇ Hanna Bäck, Wolfgang C. Müller and Benjamin Nyblade, “Multiparty Government and Economic Policy-Making. Coalition Agreements, Prime Ministerial Power and Spending in Western Europe.” Public Choice 170(1): 33-62. January 2017. PDF

Abstract: Multiparty government has often been associated with poor economic policymaking, with distortions like lower growth rates and high budget deficits. One proposed reason for such distortions is that coalition governments face more severe ‘common pool problems’ since parties use their control over specific ministries to advance their specific spending priorities rather than practice budgetary discipline. We suggest that this view of multiparty government is incomplete and that we need to take into account that coalitions may have established certain control mechanisms to deal with such problems. One such mechanism is the drafting of a coalition agreement. Our results, when focusing on the spending behavior of cabinets formed in 17 Western European countries (1970–1998), support our claim that coalition agreements matter for the performance of multiparty cabinets in economic policy-making. More specifically, we find clear support for an original conditional hypothesis suggesting that coalition agreements significantly reduce the negative effect of government fragmentation on government spending in those institutional contexts where prime ministerial power is low.

∇ Benjamin Nyblade, Angela O’Mahony and Aim Sinpeng, “Social Media Data and the Dynamics of Thai Protests.” Asian Journal of Social Sciences 43(5): 545-66. October 2015. PDF

Part of a special issue on Digital Methods in Asian Studies.

Abstract: Traditional techniques used to study political engagement—interviews, ethnographic research, surveys—rely on collection of data at a single or a few points in time and/or from a small sample of political actors. They lead to a tendency in the literature to focus on “snapshots” of political engagement (as in the analysis of a single survey) or draw from a very limited set of sources (as in most small group ethnographic work and interviewing). Studying political engagement through analysis of social media data allows scholars to better understand the political engagement of millions of people by examining individuals’ views on politics in their own voices. While social media analysis has important limitations, it provides the opportunity to see detailed “video” of political engagement over time that provides an important complement to traditional methods. We illustrate this point by drawing on social media data analysis of the protests and election in Thailand from October 2013 through February 2014.

∇ Benjamin Nyblade and Angela O’Mahony, “Playing with Fire: Pre-Electoral Fiscal Manipulation and the Risk of a Speculative Attack.” International Studies Quarterly 58(4): 828-38. December 2014. PDF

Abstract: Conventional wisdom holds that voters in developing countries fail to punish pervasive pre-electoral fiscal manipulation. However, we argue that governments are unlikely to engage in pre-electoral fiscal manipulation when facing a high risk of speculative currency attacks. In particular, under fixed exchange rates, governments are less likely to engage in fiscal electioneering when either their real exchange rate is highly appreciated or their foreign exchange reserves are low. In contrast, under a flexible exchange rate, neither a country’s real exchange rate nor its reserves affects governments’ decision to engage in fiscal manipulation. Our argument receives support through a quantitative analysis of government budget balances in 97 developing countries from 1975 to 2005.

∇ Benjamin Nyblade and Angela O’Mahony, “Migrants’ Remittances and Home Country Elections.” Studies in Comparative and International Development 49(1): 44-66. March 2014. PDF

Abstract: Elections in developing countries have increasingly become international events. Previous scholarship identifies many examples in which migrants from developing countries have played a role in financing elections in their home countries and provides cross-national evidence that migrants increase remittances in election years. However, previous cross-national analyses have been limited by their reliance on annual national-level data. This article provides statistical analyses of quarterly subnational data of remittance inflows to Mexican states and new monthly national-level data on remittance inflows for nine countries. These analyses demonstrate that political remittance cycles appear in the quarter prior to an election, can exist both for national and subnational elections, and are influenced by both economic conditions in migrants’ host countries and political conditions in their home countries.

∇ Robert J. Pekkanen, Benjamin Nyblade and Ellis S. Krauss. “The Logic of Ministerial Selection: Electoral Systems and Cabinet Appointments in Japan.” Social Science Japan Journal 17(1): 3-22. Winter 2014. PDF

Winner of the ISS-OUP Prize for Most Outstanding Article in SSJJ in 2014

Abstract: Does the kind of electoral system affect the type of members of parliament appointed to the cabinet in a parliamentary system? The literature on electoral reform has investigated many political consequences of changing an electoral system, but whether appointments to cabinets change too has not been investigated. Conversely, there have been many analyses of cabinet selection but they have not investigated any linkage to the type of electoral system. One reason for this is the lack of theory concerning how electoral systems impact party strategies for ministerial appointments. We suggest that the intervening factor is how parties balance their competing goals of vote-seeking, office-seeking and policy-seeking. If cabinet appointments provide an arena where parties balance these three goals, then we should observe a change in this balancing strategy, and in ministerial appointments, following the introduction of different incentives inherent in a new electoral system. To that end, we conducted an empirical test of Liberal Democratic Party cabinet appointments before and after the 1994 electoral reform. We demonstrate that the change in electoral system led the party to rebalance its priorities and consequently adapt its strategy for ministerial appointments.

∇ Benjamin Nyblade, “The 21st Century Japanese Prime Minister: An Unusually Precarious Perch.” Journal of Social Science 61(2): 195-209. February 2011. PDF

Abstract: The nature and rapidity of turnover of prime ministers in Japan in recent years (2006~2010) is nearly unprecedented both historically in Japan and in comparison to other developed parliamentary democracies. This paper contextualizes the recent high degree of turnover in the post of prime minister both in historical and comparative perspective. The central argument of the paper is that the recent rapid turnover in the post of the prime minister is a perverse consequence of the increased prominence and influence of the post and the greater electoral importance of the party label in a time of great electoral volatility and voter dissatisfaction. As a greater proportion of rank-and-file Diet Members of the governing party are dependent on the prime minister’s coattails and overall voter evaluation of the party’s performance for re-election, the incentives to replace unpopular PMs with a fresh face (and a new honeymoon period) is strong. In a time of strongly divided government and weak economic performance leaders may find it particularly difficult to maintain the support of swing voters and the perch at the top may be particularly precarious.

Revised and translated version published as “首相の権力強化と短命政権” in 樋渡展洋 and 斉藤淳, eds., 政党政治の混迷と政権交代. Tokyo: Tokyo University Press, 2011.

∇ Benjamin Nyblade and Steven Reed, “Who Cheats? Who Loots? Political Competition and Corruption in Japan, 1947-1993.” American Journal of Political Science 52(4): 926-41. October 2008. PDF

Supplementary Documentation, please contact me for replication code and data.

Abstract: When do politicians resort to corrupt practices? This article distinguishes between two types of corruption by politicians: illegal acts for material gain (looting) and illegal acts for electoral gain (cheating). Looting generally involves a politician “selling” influence while cheating involves a politician “buying” votes. Individual-level analyses of new data on financial scandals and election law violations in Japan show that the determinants of cheating differ from the determinants of looting. Most notably, political experience and electoral security increase the probability of looting, but electoral insecurity combined with intraparty competition increases the probability of cheating.

∇ Robert Pekkanen, Benjamin Nyblade and Ellis Krauss, “Electoral Incentives in Mixed Member Systems: Party, Posts and Zombie Politicians in Japan.” American Political Science Review 100(2): 183-93. May 2006. PDF

Abstract: How do electoral incentives affect legislative organization? Through an analysis of Japan’s mixed-member electoral system, we demonstrate that legislative organization is strongly influenced not only by the individual legislators reelection incentives but also by their interest in their party gaining power and maintaining a strong party label. Electorally vulnerable legislators are given choice legislative positions to enhance their prospects at the polls, whereas (potential) party leaders disproportionately receive posts with greater influence on the party’s overall reputation. Members of Parliament elected from proportional representation (PR) lists and in single member districts also receive different types of posts, reflecting their distinct electoral incentives. Even small variations in electoral rules can have important consequences for legislative organization. In contrast to Germany’s compensatory mixed-member system, Japan’s parallel system (combined with a “best loser” or “zombie” provision) generates incentives for the party to allocate posts relating to the distribution of particularistic goods to those elected in PR.

Translated as “小選挙区比例代表並立制と役職配分” and published in 曽根 and 大山, eds., 日本の民主主義: 変わる政治、 変わる政治学. Tokyo: Keio University Press, 2008.

∇ Ellis S. Krauss and Benjamin Nyblade, “‘Presidentialization’ in Japan? The Prime Minister, Media and Elections in Japan.” British Journal of Political Science 35(2): 357-68. April 2005. PDF

Abstract: Both academics and journalists have given increasing attention to the rising importance of prime ministers – a phenomenon often referred to ‘presidentialization’. This phenomenon has been observed primarily in Britain and in West European parliamentary democracies – no one has ever described the Japanese parliamentary system as even remotely ‘presidentialized’. However, recent political changes, most prominently the selection and popularity of Junichiro Koizumi as Japan’s prime minister in the spring of 2001, have led to a surge of interest in the prime minister. This article focuses on one core aspect of the ‘presidentialization’ argument: the relationship between the prime minister, the media and elections. We seek to put the focus on the apparent sudden increase in importance of the Japanese prime minister in perspective, arguing that the newly noted importance of the prime minister is the culmination of a trend that began two decades ago.

Reprinted in Hood, ed., Politics of Modern Japan. Routledge, 2008.

Translated, reprinted as “日本は「大統領制」になったのか–日本における首相、メディア、選挙の関係” in「奈良法学会雑誌」21(3/4), 91-116, 2008.

∇ Mikitaka Masuyama and Benjamin Nyblade, “Japan: The Prime Minister and the Japanese Diet.” Journal of Legislative Studies 10(2/3): 250-62. Summer/Autumn 2004. PDF

Abstract: Traditionally, executive leadership has been considered weak and largely irrelevant in Japanese politics. The prime minister from 1955 to 1993 was selected from the dominant Liberal Democratic Party and was constrained by the strong internecine factional conflict in his party and, for much of the 1970s and early 1980s, a razor-thin parliamentary majority. Since 1993, coalition politics have become the norm. While most scholars suggest that coalition politics would constrain the executive even further, the decline of factionalism and increased efficacy of ‘going public’ has allowed a greater potential for executive leadership in Japan.

Reprinted, Baldwin, ed., Executive Leadership and Legislative Assemblies, 2006.

Chapters and Essays

∇ Benjamin Nyblade, Angela O’Mahony and Katharine Sieck, “Building on Social Science: Theoretic Foundations for Modelers.” In Davis, O’Mahony and Pfautz, eds., Social-Behavioral Modeling for Complex Systems, Wiley, 2019. Link

Abstract: Social scientists predominantly engage in ‘mid-level’ theorizing and empirical research, which presents distinct challenges for building models. The default theoretic and empirical approaches vary across social scientific disciplines, and the validity of most social scientific theoretical and empirical research is context-dependent, making integration and cumulation of knowledge difficult. Social scientific modelers need to be aware of the challenges in building models based on mid-level theoretical frameworks and empirical research where the most common causal mechanisms involve unobserved, and potentially unobservable, mental states. This chapter begins with an overview of key social scientific theoretic frameworks that researchers draw on to build models, focusing in turn on atomistic models of individual behavior before turning to social determinants of individual behavior and theories of interaction and group behavior. While the range of theoretic frameworks used across the contemporary social sciences is diverse, they share common features that create distinct challenges for data collection and model building. With these challenges however come opportunities for building useful social scientific models that leverage cross-disciplinary perspectives and a wider range of social scientific theories.

∇ Benjamin Nyblade, “Political Legitimacy, Satisfaction and Japanese Democracy.” Chan, Shin and Williams, eds., East Asian Perspectives on Political Legitimacy, Cambridge University Press, 2016. Link

Abstract: When included in either global or regional comparative studies of democratic legitimacy and political satisfaction, Japanese popular opinion has often been seen as anomalous. Despite a long history as a stable and established democracy, it is striking how low political satisfaction has been. Political reforms over the last two decades, intended in part to respond to the causes of political disaffection, have been ineffectual to date in raising political satisfaction. This chapter suggests that it is important to separate political satisfaction from legitimacy conceptually and in practice for the Japanese case, arguing that even though Japanese people have been dissatisfied with politics, democratic legitimacy is high. Recent political reforms may not have increased political satisfaction, but they have enhanced the responsiveness of the political system to the will of the people, likely further enhancing democratic legitimacy in the long run. Japanese citizens of all walks of life are committed to playing by the democratic ‘rules of the game.’ Greater democratic legitimacy does not necessarily ensure better governance or greater political satisfaction, and as the Japanese experience demonstrates, political dissatisfaction and perceptions of ineffectual governance should not be equated with low levels of legitimacy.

∇ Benjamin Nyblade, “Japanese Party Politics at a Crossroads?” (Review Essay) Journal of Asian Studies 74(2): 443-7. May 2015. Link

Abstract: In 2009, the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan, which had successfully formed governments either alone or as the largest partner in a coalition government for all but a single year since 1955, suffered a devastating electoral defeat when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won nearly two-thirds of the seats available in the House of Representatives. The landslide DPJ victory was seen by many commentators and academics as the culmination of a decade-long trend toward two-party politics, driven in large part by party and voter adaptation to the electoral reforms of the 1990s, which introduced single-member districts as the means for electing a majority of members of parliament. The three books reviewed in this essay were written primarily in the two years following the 2009 DPJ victory, and each attempts, in quite distinct ways, to update our accounts of electoral and party politics and policymaking in Japan to account for the changes in Japanese politics in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

∇ Mikitaka Masuyama and Benjamin Nyblade, “Ministerial Selection and Deselection in Japan.” Dowding and Dumont, eds., The Selection of Ministers around the World, Routledge, 2014. Link

Abstract: In this chapter we provide an overview of ministerial selection and deselection in Japan in the postwar period, highlighting the distinctive patterns seen in Japan and discussing their underlying political logic. While certain aspects of ministerial selection and deselection in Japan are well-trod terrain, we present new data on the proximate causes of ministerial termination in the postwar period as well as explore the retention of ministers across cabinets, both areas which have received little previous attention, and highlight several crucial changes that have occurred over the past 65 years.

∇ Mikitaka Masuyama and Benjamin Nyblade, “Japan.” European Journal of Political Research Political Data Yearbook (Vols. 51-53: 2012-2014). 2012 2013 2014

For three years, Prof. Mikitaka Masuyama and I contributed the narrative and data for the Japan entry in the EJPR’s Political Data Yearbook.

∇ Go Murakami and Benjamin Nyblade, “Japanese Party and Electoral Politics.” Oxford Bibliographies Online, 2013. Link

Abstract: Outside of western Europe and its former settler colonies, Japan has had the longest history of parliamentary government and is regularly hailed as one of the most successful non-Western democracies. Japan’s first parliamentary elections were held in 1890, albeit an election held with the franchise restricted to a small subset of the population. Japan has been an appealing country for scholars of party politics and voting behavior in large part due to the ready availability of data, its unusual electoral system, and history of one-party dominance. Reliable “modern” survey data in Japan dates back into the 1960s and regular election studies started in the 1970s. Furthermore, a substantial flow of Japanese graduate students to English-speaking (primarily US) political science graduate programs, who often returned to Japan but maintained their ties to the English-language political science community, led to frequent collaboration and greater integration of studies of Japanese politics into the broader political science community than has been typical for non-English speaking countries. That being said, much of the cutting-edge work on Japanese politics is published only in Japanese, and it is incumbent on scholars of Japanese party and electoral politics to keep up with the very active Japanese-language scholarship in these areas. Although the majority of the references in this bibliography are to English-language works (given that we expect most readers to not read Japanese), we have also included both foundational and recent works published in Japanese that we feel are important for scholars of Japanese politics to know.

∇ Benjamin Nyblade, “Keeping it Together: Party Unity and the 2012 Election.” In Pekkanen, Reed, Scheiner, eds., Japan Decides 2012. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Link

Abstract: This chapter explores the foundations of party unity, both theoretically and empirically in Japan, and examines factors influencing the DPJ split. Specifically, the chapter argues that landslide victories (as of the LDP in 2005 and DPJ in 2009) are often counterproductive for party unity and leader durability, as forward-looking MPs expect that the landslide will not be repeated in the subsequent election. Most of the mechanisms for ensuring party unity in Japanese party organizations and legislative structures create incentives for career politicians over the long-run. However, these institutions and various strategies are insufficient for ensuring party unity when a large number of backbench MPs can foresee electoral defeat if they stick with the party and those MPs see a feasible alternative that might improve their electoral chances. What differentiates the LDP in 2009 from the DPJ in 2012 is that there was no viable alternative for LDP MPs to turn to in 2009. Vulnerable and disaffected DPJ MPs had viable (although risky) options available to them that LDP MPs in 2009 did not have. And while most of those who left the DPJ were unsuccessful in gaining re-election, almost all of those MPs would likely have been unable to secure re-election even if they stayed within the DPJ.

∇ Benjamin Nyblade, “Government Formation.” In Müller and Narud, eds., Party Governance and Party Democracy. New York: Springer, 2013. Link

Abstract: In parliamentary democracies, governments are based on bargains among politicians and parties. These bargains, both implicit and explicit, have profound implications not only for who gets into government, but how they govern, how long they endure, and how voters respond. This chapter examines the development and testing of bargaining models of government formation, following its evolution from simple abstract models that rest on strong assumptions to examine more nuanced and complex models of government formation. It focuses in particular on recent theoretical and empirical developments that aim to better capturing the diverse nature of the actors involved in government formation and their various goals, as well as better specify the nature and variation in bargaining processes and bargaining context.

∇ Torbjörn Bergman, Elisabeth R. Gerber, Scott Kastner, and Benjamin Nyblade, “The Empirical Study of Cabinet Governance.” In Strøm, Müller, Bergman, eds., Cabinets and Coalition Bargaining, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Link

Abstract: To understand why and how political actors form, govern and terminate coalitions we must consider the choices made by these actors under uncertainty and complexity as well as under the shadow of the past and the promise of the future. We are thus interested in both retrospective and anticipatory logics, and in how this is played out in the real world. Drawing on the first two chapters of this book, in the following eight chapters the contributors analyze specific phases of the governmental process, including the bargaining process, coalition contracts, cabinet composition, portfolio allocation, conflict management, termination, duration, and electoral performance. These stages in a cabinet’s life are interrelated. Conceptually, this inter-relatedness implies a complex set of relationships between actions and outcomes, laden with multiple levels of feedback and reciprocal causality. In the next section we present our joint approach in more detail. In the subsequent sections we discuss our data: our sample, our independent and our dependent variables. We also discuss the basic methodological choices we made in conducting the statistical analyses in the chapters.

∇ Paul Mitchell and Benjamin Nyblade, “Government Formation and Cabinet Type in Parliamentary Democracies.” In Strøm, Müller, Bergman, eds., Cabinets and Coalition Bargaining, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Link

Abstract: While political scientists over the last few decades have studied many features of coalition politics, the most sustained focus has been given to government formation. In most parliamentary democracies, government formation is not a trivial matter. Only in the few countries where plurality electoral systems (almost) invariably manufacture a majority for a single party is government formation a somewhat less interesting arena. Most elections in Western Europe result in legislatures in which no single party controls a majority of seats, typically leading to periods of coalition negotiations , which may involve multiple inconclusive bargaining rounds, as was discussed in the prior chapter by De Winter and Dumont. However, whether coalition bargaining takes less than a week, or several months, ultimately a government is formed, and the focus of this chapter is on explaining ‘the type’ of that government.

∇ Kaare Strøm, Torbjörn Bergman, Wolfgang C. Müller and Benjamin Nyblade “Conclusion: Cabinet Governance in Parliamentary Democracies.” In Strøm, Müller, Bergman, eds., Cabinets and Coalition Bargaining, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Link

Abstract: At the outset of our study we reviewed the state of the art in coalition research and boldly claimed that we would offer improvements in theory, use better data, and use appropriate and sometimes better methods to move this field of study forward. Here we come back to these claims and summarise and present our main results. We reflect on how our six clusters of independent variables influence the various stages of cabinet governance examined in each of our chapters and end the chapter by outlining some of the challenges that lie ahead for coalition researchers.

∇ Benjamin Nyblade, Review of Alisa Gaunder, Political Reform in Japan: Leadership Looming Large. In Pacific Affairs Vol. 81(1). May 2008. Link

Abstract: Alisa Gaunder’s new book, which aims to demonstrate the importance of political leadership in explaining the outcome of political reform attempts in Japan, is an excellent read. It examines six cases of successful and failed political reforms in Japan over a span of 30 years, ranging from the passage of political reform under the watch of Prime Minister Miki in 1975 to the more recent postal reforms enacted under Prime Minister Koizumi in 2005. While some scholars may disagree with Gaunder’s interpretation of specific events, her work is thoroughly researched and the links between evidence and interpretation are clear, allowing subsequent debates to be continued in a constructive fashion.

∇ Kaare Strøm and Benjamin Nyblade, “Coalition Theory and Government Formation.” In Boix and Stokes, eds., Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics, Oxford: OUP, 2007. Link

Abstract: This article tries to show how bargaining theory has helped people understand key aspects of government formation. It also shows how people’s understanding of coalition bargaining has slowly moved past the simplistic assumptions of the first generations of such theories. The article examines three specific questions in detail, and then considers the factors that influence whether specific parties or types of parties obtain government membership.

∇ Benjamin Nyblade, Review of Steven R. Reed, ed., Japanese Electoral Politics: Creating a New Party System. In the Journal of East Asian Studies Vol. 5(2). May/August 2005. Link

Abstract: Explaining election results is always an important and challenging task for political scientists, and a book that accomplishes this task so well is a valuable book indeed. Japanese Electoral Politics should be of interest not only to scholars who seek to understand what occurred in the 1996 and 2000 general elections in Japan, but also to those with broader interests…

∇ Ellis S. Krauss and Benjamin Nyblade, “Japan and North America: The Vital and Variable Relationship.” In Krauss and Nyblade, eds., Japan and North America, Routledge, 2004. Vol. 1 Vol. 2

Abstract: The year 2003 marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of US-Japan relations. This set includes forthy-nine articles on the relationship between Japan and North America during this period, from the ‘opening’ of Japan to the West following the visit of the black ships commanded by Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 to the response of Japanese and American governments to terrorism at the dawn of hte 21st century. As in any work of this nature, there was much more that we would have liked to include; nevertheless, this set should serve as an excellent overview of the complex, multifaceted relationship between Japan and North America.

∇ Kaare Strøm, Wolfgang C. Müller, Torbjörn Bergman and Benjamin Nyblade, “Dimensions of Citizen Control.” In Strøm, Müller, Bergman, eds., Delegation and Accountability in Parliamentary Democracies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Link

Abstract: Representative democracy means delegation, and delegation implies the risk of agency problems. Parliamentary democracy is a particular delegation regime, a way to structure the democratic policy process, and an attempt to solve agency problems. This chapter finds that there are persistent and essential cross-national differences between European parliamentary democracies along two dimensions of citizen control: partisan influence and external constraints. This chapter’s investigation leads us to conclude that there has been a decline in the strength and cohesion of political parties and an enhancement of international, sub-national, judicial, and direct democratic external constraints. In most respects, these changes strengthen ex post controls and weaken ex ante screening devices.