Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Allison Harell (Université de Québec à Montréal)
Effects of Candidates’ Ethnicity on Vote Choice under SMD and PR: A Case from Japan: Go Murakami (Ritsumeikan University) Abstract: In this paper, I examine how electoral system, Single Member District (SMD) and Proportional Representation (PR), conditions the effect of candidates’ ethnicity on voters’ choice in elections. When ethnic minority candidates seek for office, how does the electoral system influence their fate? Does party vote decrease, when ethnic minority candidates are included in its PR list? How large is such an effect compared to the one observed under the SMD?
To answer these questions, I take advantage of the parallel system of SMD and PR for the House of Representatives in Japan, where voters cast two ballots, and a candidate running in the SMD can also be listed in PR at the same time. In a survey experiment, Japanese adult voters were asked to vote for a candidate among four hypothetical candidates under SMD, and vote for a party under PR in a mock election. Candidates’ ethnicity, their party affiliation, and the question order for their first ballot (SMD first or PR first) are all randomly assigned.
The result shows, an ethnic minority candidate loses far more votes under SMD than his party loses its party vote under PR. Importantly, the order of ballot mattered: a significant negative effect on the minority candidate’s party vote under the PR was observed, only when participants answered their PR vote choice after they saw an ethnic minority candidate in their SMD. This implies that voters’ unawareness of ethnic minority candidates in PR contributes to the ethnic minority representation.
Canada’s Language Divide: In-group Linguistic Bias and Support for Québec Sovereignty: Marcus Macauley (Simon Fraser University) Abstract: Explanatory variables underpinning individual-level preferences regarding Québec’s separation from Canada have been debated among scholars for decades. While it is possible that several contextual and attitudinal factors influence opinions on Québec sovereignty (e.g. retrospective economic evaluations, partisanship, or geographical location), we still do not fully understand why support for separation remains constant despite fluctuating economic, social, and political conditions. In consideration of diverse Canadian literature highlighting the role of language in the sovereignty debate and drawing on recent research concerning arbitrary trait in-group identification and intergroup relations, this paper examines the extent to which linguistic in-group favouritism (Linguistic Bias) explains support or opposition to Québec sovereignty. Through statistical analysis of Canadian Election Survey data (2015), I find that individual measures of linguistic bias positively correlate with support for Québec sovereignty across Canada, while particularly pronounced in Québec. Additionally, the results show statistically significant heterogeneous expressed attitudes towards sovereignty among francophones in Québec based on levels of linguistic bias. These findings build on existing literature on this topic and add new dimensions to our understanding of how group-based identities affect individual-level preferences on salient political issues in Canada.