Here are the latest seat projections for the various parties in the upcoming House of Councillors election from The Asahi Shimbun.
And here are the projections from the Tokyo Shimbun
According to the median view of the of the Asahi, the DPJ will end up with exactly the same number of seats -- 54 -- in the House of Councillors as it now controls. In the Tokyo Shimbun, the party will actually lose two spots, slipping to 52 seats. In both cases, the DPJ will have to go hat in hand post election in search of (a) coalition parther(s), as it needed to win 60 seats in order to have a 50%+1 majority in the House of Councillors.
Not having a majority in the upper house is not the end of the world, of course. The most important piece of legislation, the national budget, goes into effect 30 days after it is passed by the House of Representatives, no matter what the House of Councillors does with it. The DPJ holds a comfortable 307 out of
There also so problematic issues of control of committee chairmanships in the House of Councillors should the DPJ fail to win an outright majority. These are not on a par, however, with the simple fact that no legislation is guaranteed passage without a 50%+1 majority of the House of Councillors members present -- which opens up some interesting opportunities in the case the DPJ fall just a few votes short of an absolute majority for sudden absences of independents from the chambers at crucial moments. Two of the seven independent members of the House of Councillors are up for reelection this year, meaning that at very least, in the next Diet session, 119 votes might be sufficient for passage of legislation which the DPJ really want to see passed.
Anyway, both the projected polls leave the DPJ far short of the majorities it needs. Just how they do this seems unsound.
First is the pass given to the microparties in both polls. There are not just five, as listed in both sets of results. There are
eight seven. Two of the left: the Social Democratic Party and the Women's Party. Six on the right: People's New Party, Sunrise Party (Tachiagare Nippon), New Renaissance Party (Shinto kaikaku), The Spirit of Japan (Nihon Soshinto) and the Happiness Realization Party.
The larger the number of little parties, the greater likelihood they will zero each other out the d'Hondt system, which is the method used to assign seats in the proportional part of the election. In each of the last three House of Councillors elections a party had to secure 2.2% of the national vote to win even a single proportional seat. At present, only the SDP is polling greater than 2%.
To see how the winnowing process happens, check out the wonderful d'Hondt system calculator here.
Using the calculator, I have run a basic scenario, assuming conservatively that
1) just as many voters show up in 2010 as in 2007
2) skeptical non-aligned voters choose Your Party as the non-DPJ, non-LDP alternative
3) that the Communists and the Socialists stay put
4) that Your Party captures the business lobby vote
5) that the conservative microparties steal votes that would have gone to the LDP, and
6) some voters will vote for the LDP out of nostalgia or force of habit
The results of the simulation, which you can see here, assigns the 48 available proportional seats this way:
New Komeito 6
Your Party 6
Japan Communist Party 3
Democratic Socialist Party 2
One can fiddle about and get New Renaissance a seat that the cost of one DPJ seat. However, failing a huge jump in turnout of folks boiling mad at the DPJ, these are likely to be the results we see in the morning paper on July 12.
Sic transit nunc gloria the microparties and their purported seats.
If my simulation can be faulted, it is for being too generous to the LDP. The party chose last year to run as the anti-Ozawa Ichiro party, choosing stances not based upon their logical coherence but on whether or not Ozawa was for them or against them. Other than anti-Ozawaism, the party failed to produce a convincing reason for its wavering supporters to stick around, the reason why Masuzoe Yo'ichi quit, dismissing "LDP" as the acronym for "Lousy Dumb Party."
Which brings up my second, much larger objection to the Asahi and Tokyo Shimbun projections: the presumption of viability of the LDP as a political force in the district elections - the subject of my next post.
*Kobayashi Chiyomi resigned from her seat the day after the close of the regular Diet session. The by-election for her Hokkaido #5 district seat will be in October. One other seat is also vacant.