As the official election campaign rolled out last week, the media are still trying to get a handle on what the upcoming Japanese election is all about. This is ‘the election Japan didn’t need to have’ or the election ‘that’s not about anything in particular’, except securing Prime Minister Abe’s and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) survival in the longer term. It is also a window of opportunity — ‘the now’s our chance’ opportunity — for the ruling LDP to entrench its current power in the Japanese Lower House for an extra couple of years. The paradox is that, unless democratic institutions and leadership totally fail the Japanese electorate, Abe and his cabinet are on a hiding to nowhere in the medium to longer term but appear to be assured of a massive election victory on 14 December.
The polls of all the major Japanese newspapers a few days ago suggest that the LDP will win a 300 seat or more majority in the Lower House of the Diet next weekend. Currently they hold 294 seats after the loss of confidence in the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government two years ago. Under the Japanese constitution, a majority of this size would give the government the power to override rejection of legislation in the House of Councillors and enormous power to prosecute its agenda, perhaps even without the support of its coalition partner the centrist New Komeito. On most issues, including the economic agenda on which Abe has declared this unscheduled election to be a referendum, the Japanese government already has the numbers. So why is the Abe government going to the polls when it doesn’t really need to?
Read the whole article on East Asia Forum website.
Image by Joe Jones on Flickr under the CC BY-SA 2.0