Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Nation Rises As One to Answer the Call of Glorious Nagata-chō Thought!

Over at Global Talk 21, Okumura-san has a lengthy post up offering his take on the crash of the Cabinet's popularity over the readmittance of the postal rebels.

While he paints a convincing portrait of a prime minister undone by a poor media strategy, I do not think the press led on the postal rebel issue. Indeed, the press, the commentariat and the politicians saw little disturbing in the turnarounds and whealing-'n-dealing on both sides. For them, it was business as usual.

From my rickety seat it looked like the political sophisticates started backpaddling like crazy once they understood that the public was less than pleased with the attempt to sneak the postal rebels back into the LDP.

But then again, I am an idiot.

Later - The imagery, if not exactly the text, of the cartoon in today's Sankei Shimbun indicates that Abe's welcoming back of the lost flock with open arms invoked the law of unintended consequences.

Interesting how the text posits the return of "DISAPPROVAL RATING" as a natural phenomenon, like the return of the birds (from Siberia, I suppose) at the end of the year.

Then again, staggering, stultifying, bludgeoning unpopularity was the natural state of the most recent string of LDP prime ministers until the celebrated Mr. K came along.

You cannot get the one (restore the LDP of old) without the other (public disgust).

Even Later - For a look at the origins of this contretemps, here is a Shisaku flashback.


Anonymous said...

I don't think that Abe has internalized the Koizumi strategy of eternal campaign. The campaign mentality can't just be turned on and off and that could come back to haunt the LDP in July.

It is a bit startling that the hyper-election-minded LDPers don't see how tenuous their support is among non-aligned voters or, to put two and two together, notice just how many such voters make up the typical constituency. Of course, the effect of such voters turning against the LDP would be stronger in the lower house SMDs than in the upper house so perhaps the LDP will survive. But the 57 seats the LDP and Komeito won in the 1994 upper house election, even with the popular Koizumi in office, is not enough to keep the DPJ at bay.

Abe needs the DPJ in a grand coalition to pass a constitutional amendment, but I can't imagine that that is his strategy.

MTC said...


Could you clarify why you believe the non-aligned voter is more significant in the House of Representatives single-member districts than in the House of Councillors single member (actually two-member)districts? My sense is the larger the electoral district, the more significant the non-aligned voter.

As for keeping the DPJ at bay, it should not be too hard: the party is an ideological mess. It campaigns disastrously: the DPJ-supported candidate in the Okinawa governor's race manage at the last minute to snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

As to your comment about internalizing the eternal campaign, see my post of November 27: "About that parliamentary democracy...thing..."

Anonymous said...

My point is that the vote volatility, and resulting volatility in seat shares in plurality voting systems increases as district magnitude (the number of seats at stake in a district in a given election) decreases. So, for the upper house, the SMDs should be similarly volatile in comparison with the lower house but those districts that elect more representatives should protect the LDP a bit. The LDP may still fail to secure a plurality in the PR segment of the system. (In this discussion I neglect the issue of the number of electors per district which actually should skew towards higher volatility in the upper house.)

Now, if we get a replay of July 1989 in 2007 in which the LDP got slaughtered in upper house SMDs, then the game is over and the LDP either has to work with the DPJ or form a new coalition. Regardless of how poorly run the DPJ is, it is at least as coherent and marketable as the collection of opposition parties that existed in 1989.

Yes, the DPJ is an ideological mess, spanning broadly across most any political dimension one applies. But the LDP faces similar heterogeneity. I expect that the party system will have to fragment again before we see more policy coherence across the LDP and DPJ.

BTW, I enjoy your blog and was directed here by Jun Okumura.