Sunday, June 06, 2010

The DPJ Thunders Out of the Valley

As the indefatigable Isabel Reynolds has already reported for Reuters, the Democratic Party of Japan has received a huge ratings bump from the resignation of Hatoyama Yukio as prime minister and DPJ party leader and from the election of Kan Naoto to both posts. Support for its major rival, the moribund be not still quite dead Liberal Democratic Party remains stable. The major losers, according to the poll, are the responses displaying "a pox on both their houses" mentality.

Whereas the last poll conducted less than a week ago (May 29-30) found that the percentage of voters supporting the DPJ at only 21%, below the 22% supporting the LDP, the poll conducted over June 4-5 -- the day of the election of Kan as DPJ leader and PM and his first full day in office -- finds the percentage of voters calling themselves supporters of the DPJ at 36%. Support for the LDP remainds essentially unchanged, at 21%. The predictable drop in the support for Your Party, the default party of fiscal stringency and bureaucrat bashing, is relatively mild: from 11% to 8%. The stunning figure is in the drop of persons declaring themselves supporters of no party: 28% a week ago, 18% in the newest poll.

Which party do you support? [May 29-30 in parentheses]

DPJ 36% (21%)
LDP 21% (22%)
Your Party 8% (11%)
Communist Party of Japan 4% (2%)
Social Democratic Party 4% (5%)
New Komeito 2% (4%)
Peoples New Party lss thn 1% (1%)
Sunrise Party lss thn 1% (lss thn 1%)
Japan New Party lss thn 1% (lss thn 1%)
New Renaissance Party lss thn 1% (lss thn 1%)

Do not support any party 18% (28%)
Don't know 3% (3%)

The results of the Kyodo polls should offer some reassure to those who believe that Japan has comprehensible and even normal politics.

First, the march to a two party system goes on: despite a plethora of alternatives, the LDP remains the alternative to the DPJ. The LDP's current support level of 21% is pretty close to where it was nine months ago -- a nadir, yes but also a a floor below which the party cannot seemingly long sink. Aside from Your Party (which has policies virtually identical to the ones Kan will likely be implementing through the DPJ) the conservative alternatives to the LDP like Sunrise and New Renaissance have not caught on. They are micro-parties. After the House of Councillors election they will remain micro-parties, if they are not indeed reduced to nano-parties.

Second, as in European democracies, the majority of the populace votes center-left, not center-right. The Communists and the Socialists, predicted by many during the Koizumi years to be headed for the dustbin of history, have regained strength. The hard line conservatives, including the coalition partner PNP, which advocates socialist economics and conservative social policies, have close to zero appeal.

As for the question of which party the voters intend to cast their proportional seat ballots for in the July elections, which are now seen as likely to be held on July 25 rather than on July 11, the results tell much the same story as the support numbers.

For which party will cast your proportional seat vote in the July elections?
[May 29-30 in parentheses]

DPJ 33% (20%)
LDP 23% (21%)
Your Party 9% (11%)
Communist Party of Japan 5% (3%)
Social Democratic Party 4% (5%)
New Komeito 3% (5%)
Sunrise Party 1% (lss thn 1%)
Japan New Party 1% (lss thn 1%)
New Renaissance Party 1% (lss thn 1%)
Peoples New Party lss thn 1% (1%)
Nippon Soushinto lss thn 1% (lss thn 1%)

Don't know 18% (27%)

If these support numbers hold -- a big if given the volatility of the views of non-aligned and Your Party voters -- the DPJ is pretty much guaranteed to defend the 53 seats it has up for reelection. While such a result would leave the party far short of the seats it needs for an unbridled legislative mandate, with majorities in both house of the Diet, it is a far cry better than the outlook of only a week ago -- which saw the party losing as many or more than 15 seats.

1 comment:

Fat Tony said...

Japan needs election thresholds in the Lower House. These micro-parties are ridiculous.