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Superstars in politics: the role of the media in the koizumi regime

Yamamura, Eiji and Sbatini, Fabio (2014): Superstars in politics: the role of the media in the koizumi regime.

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Abstract

This paper explores the role of mass media on people’s perceptions of charismatic leaders, focusing on Japan’s Koizumi regime. We conduct an empirical assessment, looking at the influence of television and newspapers on the support for Koizumi and his principal policy. This study uses individual-level data collected immediately after Koizumi’s 2005 landslide win. The major findings are: (1) frequency of exposure to mass media is positively related to support for Koizumi but not to support for his principal policy and (2) the effect of watching television is only observed for women and that of reading the newspaper only for men. Thus, a charismatic male leader on television has a greater influence than his policy on female voters. The psychological effect of an “attractive” male leader on female voters is amplified through television. Despite no support from special interest groups, Koizumi won the election because of a televised superstar effect.

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