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Explaining Government Turnover in Asian Democracies


  • Min-Hua Huang,

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    • Min-Hua Huang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan.
  • Taehee Whang,

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    • Taehee Whang (corresponding author) is an Assistant Professor in the Division of International Studies at Korea University in Seoul, Korea.
  • Alexander C. Tan

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    • Alexander C. Tan is a Professor in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Canterbury in Canterbury, New Zealand.


What explains the Japanese experience of one-party-dominated democracy over the past five decades? More generally, and looking across Asian democracies, what explains variations in the degree of political volatility? We propose a theory of government turnover rate that not only explains political rigidity in Japan and the experience of precarious democracy in Thailand and the Philippines, but also explains changes of government in other Asian democracies. Political volatility, defined as the rate of government turnover, ranges from very low, as seen in one-party-dominated democracies, to very high, as seen in troubled democracies that regularly suffer democratic breakdowns. With our theory, we argue that three major factors contribute interactively to political volatility: executive type, distributive power, and social cleavage. Through a comparative analysis of all Asian democracies, we conclude that the mechanisms resulting in political volatility can be generalized in a unifying theoretical framework.

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