Welcome to my web page. I am an assistant professor of political science & international relations at Korea University. I received my Ph.D. in 2011 from the Department of Political Science at UCLA. My primary interests lie in political institutions, elections, parties, and legislative politics in new democracies, especially in East and Southeast Asia -- Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, and South Korea. My current book project, entitled Electoral System Choice and Personalistic Parties in New Democracies, examines the reasons for differences in electoral institutions and party development in new democracies. I investigate why, in periods of transition to democracy, political leaders sometimes choose candidate-centered electoral rules, which tend to foster personalistic parties, undermining party discipline and loyalty and spurring pork barrel politics. To address that question, I examine three new democracies in Asia -- the Philippines, Indonesia, and South Korea -- and test the general applicability of the findings using a larger dataset of emerging democracies. Other research interests include redistributive politics, executive-legislative relations, and political and economic development. For more information about my research and to download my cv, please follow the links on the navigation bar.
Electoral System Choice and Personalistic Parties in New Democracies
Why are candidate-centered electoral institutions that foster personalistic parties sometimes chosen in new democracies? Personalistic parties, which are undisciplined and focused on delivering individual or local benefits, are believed to harm government accountability and performance, and hence to weaken citizen support for democracy in the long run. Many scholars argue that these parties thrive because of candidate-centered electoral rules, which encourage candidates to cultivate personal reputations with constituents (instead of party policy reputations). Yet it is seldom obvious why such rules were adopted in the first place. To address this question, I conduct case studies of three Asian new democracies—the Philippines, Indonesia, and South Korea—and reveal that political leaders in new democracies sometimes choose candidate-centered electoral institutions in order to increase their electoral chances in the upcoming first democratic election, even though such institutions may harm their long-term interests. Social contexts and institutional settings affect which institutional choice is likely to help win the first election. I then corroborate those hypotheses drawn from the case study findings with cross-national quantitative studies of 97 new democracies since 1950. Finally, I test within the Asian countries whether candidate-centered electoral institutions chosen during earlier democratization spur personalistic parties by undermining party discipline and loyalty.
East and Southeast Asian politics; developing democracies; electoral systems; parties; legislative politics; redistributive politics; executive-legislative relations; political and economic development