The logic of election system change in South Korea: Context, strategy, and institutional choice

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Title: The logic of election system change in South Korea: Context, strategy, and institutional choice
Author: Lee, Sangmook
Abstract: This is a study of election system change in South Korea under authoritarian governments . The purpose of this study is to explain why authoritarian governments found it necessary to frequently alter the rules under which candidates for the National Assembly stood for election . To explain this process , several factors will be focused on . First , this study will identify the types of election system changes that authoritarian governments enacted . Second , it will examine the electoral consequences of each election system change , identifying the extent to which institutional changes affected election outcomes in National Assembly elections . Finally , this study will identify those contextual factors that help explain why Korea¡'s authoritarian governments pursued the electoral system changes they did . The result of these efforts will be a more complete understanding of the political goals authoritarian governments in Korea sought to accomplish altering electoral systems and an assessment of how successfully government goals were attained . To understand the complexity of the sources of election system change in Korea , this study employs a complementary approach which combines the rational decision model with the constraints and opportunities associated with different electoral institutions . Both rational action and institutional structure are essential complements for an analysis of election system change in Korea . This approach is to better explain why certain types of election system change were made at some times and why different changes were made at other times . Korea¡'s election system was changed many times and in many ways under authoritarian governments . This study has only focused on six cases . Three of them are major changes and the remaining three cases were minor changes . Major changes are associated with the change in the electoral formula , while minor changes are associated with the change in district boundaries and magnitudes by increasing or decreasing seats . Six election system changes are analyzed in terms of four components of a conceptual framework , including contextual factors that influenced government strategies , the types of strategies that the government employed to alter electoral rules , the electoral rule that the government implemented , and election outcomes produced by election system change . The findings are as follows : first , there was no single strategy employed by authoritarian governments to maintain their statuses as ruling parties . Not only a seat -maximization strategy , but also a status -maintenance strategy were important sources of election system change in Korea . Second , authoritarian governments in Korea wanted to increase their legitimacy by being able to survive democratic elections and to rule with a cooperative National Assembly which required that they sometimes give into demands made by the opposition . Third , election system changes were initiated when government parties were uncertain about their ability to win an upcoming election . Moreover , when governments implemented election system changes , they considered what impact rule changes would have on the electoral strength and fragmentation of the oppositions .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2346 /1281
Date: 2006-05

Citation

The logic of election system change in South Korea: Context, strategy, and institutional choice. Doctoral dissertation, Texas Tech University. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2346 /1281 .

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