In November 2005 the Liberal Democratic Party will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its founding. Japan's ruling party is a prime example, if not a paradigmatic case of a dominant party. While dominant parties in other advanced democracies sooner or later have lost their grip on power, the LDP is still going strong. How can the success of the LDP be explained? And what are the perspectives of Japan's dominant party?
My presentation will proceed in three steps. First, I will introduce the general concept and the characteristics of a dominant party. In more analytical terms, different dimensions of dominance – i.e. electoral, parliamentary and executive dominance – shall be sketched. In a second step, I will discuss how the LDP managed to cling to its dominant status. The discussion will focus on aspects, such as the party’s links to voters, the role of the electoral system, and the management of governmental affairs. Finally, I want to shed some light onto new challenges faced by the LDP since the 1990s. The audience will be invited to discuss the perspectives of Japan's dominant party.
Patrick Köllner is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Asian Affairs and head of research program at the German Overseas Institute, Hamburg. In October 2005 he will be a JSPS funded visiting scholar at the International Center for Comparative Politics and Law, Faculty of Law, University of Tokyo.