Mikitaka Masuyama and Benjamin Nyblade
Prepared for the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, August 28 - 31, 2003.
Why do opposition parties propose votes of no-confidence they know will not pass? Although there is an extensive literature on the confidence relationship between parliament and the executive, it tends to focus solely on the vote of no-confidence as a mechanism for the parliamentary majority control of the executive. This paper fills a gap in the literature by exploring the vote of no-confidence as a tool of the opposition, focusing on its use in the Japanese Diet. We suggest two possible reasons for the vote of no-confidence to have utility to the opposition, even when they know it will not pass. The opposition might use the no-confidence vote for legislative gains, using the no-confidence vote as a delay tactic or filibuster. Or the opposition might use it for electoral gains, using the no-confidence vote as an opportunity to publicize unpopular government policies or actions. Although the traditional literature on the Japanese Diet has suggested that the opposition uses the no-confidence vote for legislative gains, the evidence presented in this paper suggests that electoral gains hypothesis better explains no-confidence votes in postwar Japan.