Portfolio Allocation as Leadership Strategy: Intraparty Bargaining in Japan


  • I would like to thank Kenichi Ariga, Barry C. Burden, John C. Campbell, William R. Clark, Kentaro Fukumoto, Anna Grzymala-Busse, Hiroshi Hirano, Orit Kedar, Arthur Lupia, Kenneth Mori McElwain, Daisuke Nakajima, Nils Ringe, Jun Saito, Susumu Shikano, Yutaka Shinada, Masaki Taniguchi, Kharis Templeman, the editor, and four anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on earlier drafts. I am also grateful to Yukio Maeda for sharing his Japanese public opinion data. This research was supported in part by the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan. Replication data can be found at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~onoy/.

Yoshikuni Ono is Assistant Professor of Political Science, International Relations, International University of Japan, 777 Kokusaicho, Minamiuonuma-shi, Niigata 949-7277 Japan (onoy@iuj.ac.jp).


How do the dynamics of portfolio allocation work within parties? While much of the existing literature focuses on portfolio allocation among parties in coalition governments, bargaining over cabinet portfolios also takes place within parties because many parties have internal divisions or factions that influence these decisions. By analyzing data on portfolio allocation in the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan from 1960 through 2007, this study demonstrates that, contrary to the proportionality proposition (Gamson's Law), substantial variance exists in allocation outcomes over time because party leaders allocate cabinet portfolios among factions as a means of preventing defections and challenges from their party's members. The resulting portfolio allocation reflects the bargaining dynamics within the party: I find that party leaders surrender more portfolios as they become more vulnerable to challenges posed by internal rivals.