And the near final** scores in the popular vote are in:
Party (Final tally) [My estimate a week ago]
DPJ (21,137,458) [22,200,000]
LDP (16,797,687) [16,000,000]
Komeitō (8,621,265) [8,300,000]
Communists (4,362,574) [4,500,000]
Socialists (2,990,665) [3,000,000]
Women’s (989,882) [800,000]
Green (903,775) [800,000]
Spoiled/Other** (128,478) [400,000]
**the elections committee has yet to released figures for spoiled ballots.
For the record, the final totals in terms of seats, both district and proportional:
So what does it all mean?
1) This is pretty much a win-win-win outcome. The LDP missed its election target--but by only a few seats so Koizumi stays on. The slap on the wrist will not diminish Koizumi's verve but it should teach him to respect the Constitution a little bit more. The DPJ wins both the proportional vote and the contest for the total number of seats won. The close finish also positions both parties for a headbanger challenge match the next time a House of Representatives election is held.
2) Goodby Communists...Hello LDP: An increase of strategic voting among urban voters saved the LDP's bacon. In past elections, voters would vote for Communist district candidates just for spite. This time, urban voters opposed to the LDP voted for the DPJ candidates, letting the LDP slip back into the urban areas. The Communists, by contrast, lost every single one of their district seats. Now they are a proportional-seats-only party like the Socialists.
3) Strategic voting is pushing the development of a two party system...and vice versa. Every multi-seat district elected one LDP candidate and one DPJ candidate.
4) Anti-war voting is a wash. Many Japanese are opposed to Japan's involvement in Iraq and many more were ticked off by Koizumi's abrogation of Diet power in extending the Ground Self Defense Forces deployment last month. However, opposition to the Iraq deployment did not lead to increases in the share of the vote of the most emphatic anti-war parties, the Communists and the Socialists.
5) Score two for the Justice Ministry and the continuing survival of a shame culture. Convicted felons Muneo Suzuki and Hiromi Tsujimoto failed to win seats.
6) Democracy is alive and well: 56.6% of the population voted, down only a shade from the 58.8% who voted in the exciting 2001 House of Councillors contest. In 1998, the last time this particular bunch of candidates faced election, only 44.5% of the electorate bothered to vote.
7) Political economy counterfactoid: the DPJ is strongest is in prefectures where business and employment conditions have improved since 1993 while the LDP remains dominant where conditions have deteriorated significantly over the last decade. Sometimes it is not the economy, stupid.
[Actually it is the economy, stupid--in a twisted way. Pernicious structural wrongs needed to be righted. As measured by the ratio of jobs to job seekers, the collapse in employment opportunity has been strongest in Niigata, Shimane and Iwate prefectures...the political bases of Kakuei Tanaka, Noboru Takeshita and Ichiro Ozawa--the three warring kings of the Tanaka superfaction].
8) If the Communists were to do the decent thing and just fade away, the DPJ would be the ruling party right now. By sticking around, they keep the LDP in power. So in a sense Ralph Nader is not all alone in this world.
Finally, it is worth noting that Al-Qaeda did nothing to undermine or influence this election. Fears of a repeat of the Madrid attacks was great. It seems that Al-Qaeda and its affiliates either a) found it impossible to carry out operations in Japan, b) are under serious pressure in their base areas, or c) did not and do not give a hoot about Japan's participation in Iraqi reconstruction.
Whatever the answer, I score it:
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