Competition for trade liberalization is best explained by the concept of “competitive liberalization”. The concept is used to analyze whether the EC/EU’s trade liberalization has affected the decision of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) to sign free trade agreements (FTA) with third countries. In order for “competitive liberalization” to be initiated and imitated, we suggest that it is critical for decision-makers to attribute their countries’ lack of competitiveness to the liberalization measures of competitors. At the same time, decision makers must believe that the only way to rectify the situation is to join the competitive race by signing FTAs with trade partners. This being so, not only must objective trade data be used, but the subjective evaluations of decision makers must also be included to verify the competitive liberalization hypothesis. By analyzing covariations of long-term trade data and the 1960-2002 EFTA Council records, we find that the EC/EU’s signing of an FTA increases the likelihood of EFTA signing an FTA. This is the case even when we control for trade variables. Moreover, the data from EFTA Council records suggests that the greater the emphasis that ministers place on FTA “word strings”, the greater the likelihood that the EFTA will sign FTAs with other countries. This effect disappears if we control for trade data. Finally, we find that the more concerned EFTA ministers are with a state’s application for EC/EU membership, the more likely it is that an FTA will be signed. Thus,subjectively speaking, the EFTA ministers’ decision to sign FTAs with other countries may be more complicated than argued by theorists of “competitive liberalization”.
Volume #17, Number #1
Published in June, 2013
Unlike studies using party identification to examine citizens’attitudes toward political parties, this essay introduces the concepts of party necessity and party trust to explore citizens’ attitudes toward a political party. Three assumptions are provided and tested based on the existing literature and Taiwan’s experiences. First, in a democracy, the majority of citizens confirm that a party is a necessity while maintaining a widespread distrust toward parties. Second, the citizens’ evaluations of party functions will have effects on party necessity. Third, the citizens’ evaluations of party functions and satisfaction with party performance will also generate effects on party trust.
The findings confirm these hypotheses and several implications are of special importance. In the discussions on party change in western democracies, the phenomenon of party function decline has been regarded as a potential contention of a party’s pivotal status. Yet, from the perspective of a functioning democracy, a political party does play anindispensable role in the operation of a democracy. As in most democratic counterparts, citizens in Taiwan maintain an ambivalent attitude towards political parties. While citizens acknowledge the necessity of political parties for the operation of a democracy, they also maintain a rather high degree of party distrust. In terms of party necessity, this essay finds that citizens’ evaluations of party functions will affect their attitudes toward the necessity of having parties. Citizens are more likely to accept the necessity for parties as they uphold more positive evaluations of party functions. In addition, this essay also finds that citizens’ evaluations of party functions and party performance will affect the citizens’ trust in the party. It is argued that the citizens’ evaluations of party functions and party performance are closely associated with the citizens’ assessments of politicians’ respective performances. The functioning of a political party depends on the behavior of individual politicians who belong to the party. To some degree, therefore,the assessment of the politicians’ performance will become one of thesources of the citizens’ trust in the party.
The resilience of the communist regime in China has been a puzzle in the study of dual transitions. By examining the property rights regime in China’s high-tech sector, this article argues that the reason for China’s extraordinary economic growth without political liberalization lies in the process of the reassignment of property rights. With a view to helping state agencies avoid financial difficulty, high-tech spin-off enterprises and their associated hybrid property rights regimes created space for the old authority structure to remain in place. In particular, these spin-off enterprises never cut their ties with the state. While such a strategy has proved effective in discouraging the state’s predatory behavior in the course of market transition, it is the cause of the enduring influence of the Chinese state on these enterprises. Given the nature of state-market interactions in technology-related industries, the study of high-tech spin-offs in Zhongguancun serves as a critical case to understand the change in power structure associated with the reassignment of property rights. Most importantly, the findings of this article carry implications for understanding the politics of dual transitions in China.
Other than ontologically or hypothetically, the ownership of private property may be justified deontologically or categorically in roughly three ways: by labor, by freedom and by rights, each of which has some inner unresolvable problems, and each of which confronts the others as its outer anti-theses. By means of the Kantian Antinomies it is recognized that such a contrast arises due to the indifference between capital goods and consumption goods, and therefore results in the very confusion over the individual being the property owner and the individual being the property owned by others. This confusion can be traced backwards to the functions of money, which reduce to equality the relations between (1) man and nature, (2) different kinds of properties, and (3) man and man. Basing the function of money on the last relation results in liberalism.
For a long time, a majority of elected candidates in the national district for the upper house elections have not only been backed by interest groups but have been representatives of nationally-organized interest groups. Interestingly, in Japan, there are no laws requiring that upper house members be vocational representatives. How has the pattern “interest groups endorse and parties nominate” almost become a norm?
Some analyses already point out that this is because interest groups with sound, vertically-integrated organizations have advantages in mobilizing votes and can redress parties’ mobilization weaknesses. While it is true that parties without sound local chapters have difficulties campaigning effectively, this paper argues that the pattern “interest groups endorse and parties nominate” should be understood in a broader context of clientelism where the LDP dominated Japan over a long period and, as a patron, used public policy to promise and deliver benefits in exchange for the electoral support of interest groups, namely, the client. However, a clientelistic exchange is contingency-based and is not simultaneous, and a monitoringmechanism is therefore needed to know whether or not the client voted for the patron as promised. Although lower house elections are critical, due to electoral rules, votes by different groups for a particular candidate cannot be easily investigated in lower house elections. By contrast, a nationwide district in relation to the upper house elections (1947-1980) has llowed nationally organized interest groups to show their ability to mobilize votes. As a result, the national district in regard to the upper house elections has inadvertently served as a monitoring mechanism for parties to investigate votes by different groups.
This paper also investigates how both parties and interest groups have adapted themselves to the subsequent electoral rule changes of 1983 and 2001, and have continued to use a nationwide district in the upper house elections to serve as a monitoring mechanism. In conclusion, this paper discusses possible changes in the relationship between parties and interest groups in Japan that resulted from the change in government in 2009.