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Who Lobbies Whom? Special Interest Politics under Alternative Electoral Systems


  • The authors are very grateful to Michio Muramatsu and Ikuo Kume for sharing their data and inviting us to participate in their projects. The data collection was financially supported by the MEXT (SPR-13002006, PI: Michio Muramatsu) and Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B-17330032, PI: Ikuo Kume). Christina Davis, Chris Kam, Masaru Kohno, Matt McCubbins, Ben Nybrade, Naoto Nonaka, T. J. Pempel, Ethan Scheiner, Matt Shugart, Kengo Soga, Masahiko Tatebayashi, Yves Tiberghien, Langche Zeng, five anonymous reviewers, and the editor provided invaluable feedback. Rob Pekkanen provided data on policy tribes. We thank Keiko Higuchi for data assistance and Kuniaki Nemoto for research assistance. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the 2007 “International Workshop on Policy Networks,” Kobe, Japan, the 2007 workshop on “Modeling Power Relationships in Japanese Democracy” at the University of British Columbia, and a graduate seminar in Comparative Political Economy at UCSD.

Megumi Naoi is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0521 ( Ellis Krauss is Professor, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0521 (


Why do some interest groups lobby politicians and others lobby bureaucrats? We theorize lobbying venue choices and intensity as a function of contract enforceability with policy makers, politicians, or bureaucrats. We argue that organizational structures of interest groups, in particular, whether they are centralized or decentralized, substantially affect their lobbying strategies because they are associated with different ability to monitor and enforce contracts with policy makers and punish them when they fail. We further demonstrate that the effect of centralized versus decentralized structure on venue choices is conditional on the types of electoral system: majoritarian, semiproportional (single, nontransferable vote: SNTV), or proportional representation systems. We test this argument using longitudinal survey data on lobbying which span two decades and cover around 250 interest groups in various sectors and issue areas in Japan. The results lend strong support to our argument about contract enforceability under alternative electoral systems.