Japan 2017

Japan has a general election this Sunday. Yes, again. It looks pretty uninteresting, as we almost certainly know the result will be a big majority for the LDP and its pre-election alliance partner, Komeito. Yes, again. The main question seems to be whether that majority will be two thirds or less.

When Japan had its election in 2014, I used it as an example of different ways a cabinet can be terminated. More specifically, I used it as an example of a case where there was no reason why an early election was needed, because the government has a solid majority. That is at least as true in 2017 as it was in 2014.

Japan’s electoral system for the House of Representatives is Mixed-Member Majoritarian (MMM). Those not familiar with the term might refer to my post on the 2005 election. Now, that was an interesting election. (2009 was interesting, too, and even 2012 was, sort of.)

5 thoughts on “Japan 2017

  1. The results seem to indicate the governing parties getting back into power with a slightly smaller number of seats than the last time, as has been the pattern in similar early elections, which raises the question of why they bothered.

    The main opposition party split, but with Japan’s electoral system that wouldn’t necessarily help the governments, and in fact the two parties they split into separately gained about 30 seats over the single party three years ago.


    • The Japanese lower house decreased by 10 members, so the governing coalition could be thought of winning 1 less seat.

      Interesting that Japan has decrease its parliament size slightly. At one time in the 80s, it was as high as 512 members. Does shrinking the membership of a parliament save money?


  2. The popular vote percentage for the governing party was almost exactly what it was three years ago. The popular vote percentage for the minor party allied with the government fell by one percent.

    I assume there was an arcane constitutional or internal party political reason for this election.


  3. The only reason for this election (just over a year earlier than constitutionally necessary) was that Abe received a bounce in his approval ratings due mostly to Kim Jong Un’s shenanigans, and he took advantage by calling the snap election. Pretty textbook poll-surfing out of the Thatcher playbook. It was the most boring election ever. Basically a re-run of 2014. Not only did most party strengths stay basically unchanged, but only a handful of winners were non-incumbents. The split in the opposition amounted to nothing in the short term, although the breakup of the paralyzed-because-divided DP might be the basis of something interesting happening if and when Japanese voters calm down about North Korea and/or give up on “Abenomics.”

    Turnout was the 2nd lowest ever (only a bit higher than last time). This election was basically the political equivalent of the voters renewing their auto insurance for another year – “yeah, there might be a better deal out there, but I can’t be bothered to think about it right now.”


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