Graduate School of Law/Faculty of Law, Kobe University




Comparative Study of Electoral Governance

Principal Investigator: Professor ONISHI Yutaka

This research project aims to uncover the influence of the different types of Electoral Governance on democracies through comparative perspectives. More specifically, the project conducts research to analyze how the form of Electoral Governance changes the quality of elections, in terms of appropriateness, fairness, and voter turnout. Also, we identify factors that cause differences in Electoral Governance between countries. Electoral Governance is concerned with multiple electoral functions, such as planning, implementing and monitoring. The functions are mainly administered by election management bodies. Although the importance of studying Electoral Governance has long been recognized, little attention has been paid to this topic internationally. Needless to say, in Japan, research on the topic has just begun. Our project employs a comparative approach both between countries and among Japanese municipalities to fill this gap in election management research.

The purposes of this study can be summarized as the following three points: 1) to uncover how Electoral Governance influences the “quality” of elections, measured by factors such as appropriateness, fairness, and voter turnout, 2) to uncover what causes differences in the type of Electoral Governance between countries, and 3) to reveal what kind of factors determine the administration of election management systems. The first and second points will be investigated through an international comparison of countries with different election management systems. The third point will be studied through comparisons of Japanese municipalities with the same election management system. For all three aspects, qualitative analyses will enable us to accumulate rich knowledge of the context behind each country and each region, and quantitative analyses will ensure the generalizability of our theory. For the third point, a series of questionnaire surveys will be conducted, targeting the election administration commissions of all municipalities in Japan. Our project also examines whether and how a high performance Electoral Governance model will diffuse to other countries and to other municipalities.

Two research units were employed to perform this research. The first focuses on international comparison, and the second on domestic. The members of the international comparison unit are Prof. Endo (Africa), Prof. Takahashi (Latin America), Prof. Kawanaka and Prof. Asaba (Asia), Prof. Sengoku (Eastern Europe), Prof. Inatsugu (UK, Australia, New Zealand), Prof. Fukushima (Sweden), and Prof. Matsumoto (US). The domestic comparison unit members are Prof. Shinada, Prof. Soga, Prof. Kawamura, Prof. Inatsugu, Prof. Tatebayashi, and Prof. Fujimura.

The international comparison unit gathers information on the election management system by region, and builds an international database of election laws, which will be used as a basis for cross-national comparisons. The domestic comparison unit conducts a questionnaire survey for election administration commissions at the municipality level in Japan. Our findings will be published in a series of books and peer-reviewed journal articles.