Municipal Mergers and Voter Turnout in National Elections in Japan – 15 Years After Mergers
This paper examines the relationship between municipal mergers and voter turnout in national elections. Building on prior studies regarding the negative impact of municipal mergers on voter turnout, I extend the time period covered to examine whether the negative impact of mergers on turnout persists in subsequent elections. Using data for upper house elections from 1992 to 2019, I demonstrate that: (1) voter turnout was similar between merged and intact municipalities until the 2001 election; (2) turnout began to diverge in the 2004 election; and (3) in the subsequent elections, voter turnout has been lower in merged than in intact municipalities. The findings imply that in the merged municipalities, no actor has replaced the prior role played by municipal politicians in mobilizing voter turnout.