Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Giving It Away

So what is the game plan of the leaders of Democratic Party of Japan? What do they think they are doing? Why do they not feel obligated to compromise, to meet the Prime Minister and the ruling coalition halfway? Why do they not feel pressured into offering their version of bills or nominees to important positions, despite denunciation by the ruling coalition and upbraiding by editorial boards and pundits?

Stripped of the fuzziness and affectation, the bare bones of DPJ strategy seem to be:

(1) Reject any bill or nomination not proposed by the DPJ.

(2) Force the ruling coalition either to

a) abandon its game plan, or
b) use its House of Representatives supermajority or
c) call an election.
(3) React to the ruling coalition's choice in (2) by either saying

"We told them what we wanted so this is the result," or

"They don't know how to compromise so they had to pass their program using brute force," or

"Well, it's about time!"
(4) Repeat as often as possible or until the ruling party learns to think 60 days ahead.

Ideally, the DPJ and its allies in the House of Councillors will harass the prime minister so much that he loses his senses and calls an election. Fukuda Yasuo or whomever is leading the Liberal Democratic Party has no reason to call an election before September 2009. However, given the amount of total nonsense espoused in the guise of political discourse every day of the week, it is possible the PM may be somehow tricked into believing life will be better after an election.

Barring an election, the goal is to force the government to swallow Democratic Party proposals whole or leave it with no choice but the invocation of the override. Either outcome paints the Democrats as the party of ideas and firm principles, whether or not the press plays along.

The DPJ does not have a reasonable chance of seizing control of the House of Representatives outright in an election. However, it and its allies will win more than a third of the seats, eliminating the use of the override provision.

The Diet will come to a standstill.

Incapable of passing legislation or appointing anyone to anything, the present government or its successor will have to enter into coalition talks with the DPJ. Bargaining from a position of strength greater than it possesses today, the DPJ will win control of key levers of economic and political power.

So the critics are wasting their breath: the DPJ does not give a hoot whether or not it appears responsible in its opposition right now. Until

a) the PM calls an election, or
b) the Liberal Democratic Party elects a party leader willing to excise the most rotten bits from the LDP or
c) the LDP leadership learns how to Plan Ahead

the DPJ will just reject, reject twice and reject again every damn fool idea the ruling coalition tosses at them--and most of smart ones too.

So there.

I have given it away.

Tunnel on road between Fudōjiri Camp and Kōtaku Onsen
Isehara City, Kanagawa Prefecture
March 16, 2008

Image courtesy: MTC

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