Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Japanese public to the ruling coalition: Drop Dead

Neither stupid Diet absenteeism nor losing the Indian Ocean redeployment fight nor a solid pair of speeches by the leader of your opponents can seriously dent your image with the Japanese public, it seems.

Japan's Opposition Party Tops Ruling LDP in Poll, Mainichi Says

By Tak Kumakura and Finbarr Flynn-- Jan. 22 -- Japan's opposition Democratic Party of Japan has a third more support than the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to win the next parliamentary election, a Mainichi newspaper survey found.

Forty-four percent of people who responded to the survey said they wanted the opposition Democratic Party to win the next Lower House election, while 33 percent favored the LDP...
The Bloomberg report contains an error. The actual numbers from the Mainichi poll are 44% wishing for a DPJ victory and 35% wishing for an LDP victory--not 33%.

Some might jump in and say, "This represents an improvement from the numbers of last month's survey when the numbers were 33% for the LDP and 46% for the DPJ."

Oh please--everything goes the LDP's way in the Diet for a month and they gain two percentage points of support? And the DPJ loses two? That's it?

Most importantly for the DPJ's fortunes, the party held steady among women at 38%. It was among the men that the drop came, from the anomalous 55% (a number so stunning I felt compelled to write a post about it ) down to a still impressive 51%.

More revealing of public revulsion with the ruling coalition are the answers to the question "What would be the makeup of the kind of government you would like?" [The figures in parentheses being the December numbers]

A purely LDP government 8% (10%)
The current LDP-Komeito coalition 16% (17%)
A grand coalition with the LDP and the DPJ in cooperation 29% (23%)
A coalition with the DPJ as its core 26% (21%)
A purely DPJ government 6% (11%)
Other 5% (6%)

The extremes have lost support, most dramatically a pure DPJ government. However, the significant lines are the second and the fourth, where the current LDP-led ruling coalition is 10% points behind its mirror opposite DPJ-led coalition. The high and rising number for the centrist grand coalition further demonstrates the sense that the current ruling coalition is a failure.

In the past, LDP governments could survive less-than-20% support ratings thanks to gerrymandering and the lack of an opposition with serious policies.

Those days are gone, however. The House of Representatives elections are too darn close to just and fair...and the DPJ's policies are too serious and politically savvy to mock.

Rearranging the deck chairs or trying to establish a third mature, sober, virginal, apolitical force are distractions. Artifice and diversions.

The LDP and the whole tawdry circus go to't, my dear Horatio.


Anonymous said...

Do you have any idea how anomalous this poll is? My understanding is that cabinet support levels typically fall over time in polling, and the opposition support typically picks up leading into election time when people start paying attention, but falls away again between elections. Polls *between* elections which suggest support for the DPJ is running ahead of the LDP seems to be a new phenomenon, and one which supports your idea that the LDP are for it. I'm just not sure if my understanding is right...

Also, I was really interested in you arguing the LDP are going to lose the HoR election. That's an awful lot of seats to get beaten in. Have you done some rudimentary number crunching or is it "kan" (as in "sense," not "politician," obviously).

Anonymous said...

Let me comment on your predictive powers by quoting you from just before the LDP waxed the DPJ in 2005:

"Following the election, Koizumi will honor his promise and resign the presidency of the LDP. What he will be leaving behind, however, will be the antithesis of the sprawling, constipated and timid coalition of rent-seekers he took charge of four years ago. The lower house LDP members who survive the September 11 election will be, for the first time in decades perhaps, actual politicians: able to both win tough elections and make tough policy choices. This kernel of center-right political professionals will be an attractive junior coalition partner for a DPJ holding a plurality but not an outright majority of seats in the House of Representative."

What kind words you had for the politicians (anyone who won) you are so eager to see go this time around. Here's an idea: Give us some analysis, as opposed to the mangled horse corpse known as "the LDP will finally lose, and I'm sure this time, and I mean really sure" bullcrap that every media outlet in Japan uses, whenever an election is in the air, so they can sell newspapers.

What an amazing insight! The LDP might lose! The only problem is that they don't. Everyone knows (or should know) that public opinion polls are terrible indicators in Japan, especially when it comes to the Lower House.

MTC said...

anonymous -

Your quotation is unfairly selective, especially as I filed a self-critical correction in the very next post:

"Everyone with half a brain knew that Prime Minister Koizumi was going to pull the trigger last Monday. What political junkies (yours truly included) did not expect was that the Japanese public would really get a kick out of the Diet dissolution. A head-snapping pair of announcements--Koike Yuriko's candidacy for Kobayashi Koki's seat and the jump in the approval ratings for the soon-to-be defunct Cabinet --sent the outlook for the election careening off into new directions on Wednesday morning."

Anonymous said...

My point remains valid. You and other one-trick LDP bashers go through the same rituals every election, with the same results. Predicting along with the news-starved Japanese media that the LDP is going to lose and finally reap its karmic harvest is not a substitute for actually analyzing what is happening in Japanese politics.

MTC said...

anonymous -

"What an amazing insight! The LDP might lose! The only problem is that they don't."

"My point remains valid. You and other one-trick LDP bashers go through the same rituals every election, with the same results."

Please pass on the above two messages to Katayama Toranosuke and his fellow former members of the House of Councillors.

Anonymous said...

As I stated in the first comment, I am referring to Lower House elections. There are myriad cases in which DPJ has gotten its moral victories in the Upper House, but when push comes to shove, the public is ultimately going to rely on the LDP. This is because the DPJ is a hodge-podge of LDP also-rans and socialists who can't stomach being even more marginalized in the actual party that is socialist.

You are the one who expressed surprise that the DPJ hasn't lost more face by its recent problems. These stem from a lack of true party cohesion or any substantial policy options. Sure, the LDP is a hodge-podge too, and a historically corrupt party to boot, but it has been savvy enough to reinvent itself just when the public has been reaching a tipping point. It has happened time and again since the LDP took power, yet observers always get taken in by the idea of an opposition win, usually because of their personal hopes and opinions.

Just watch. The LDP is already in the process of giving itself a kinder, gentler image (I'm not saying it's a valid image, by the way), and by the time an election is called, the public will again allow the LDP to stay in power.

MTC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MTC said...

anonymous -

The lack of serious movement against the DPJ, even after a series of what were for the party unfortunate events, demonstrates my point--that the public is sick to death of the LDP.

You have taken my observation, which had its feet firmly planted in the ground, and forced it to stand upon its head.

Anonymous said...


Well, then the question is whether now is actually different from, say, 10 or 30 years ago, politically speaking. I'd say yes, as the mood in the country is rather dark, unlike past periods where some scandal or other made the LDP look bad. This time, it's Japanese society that's looking troubled-and that means the LDP.

This doesn't mean that a possible DPJ government would solve things, it's just that the 1955 system may be reaching the end of its life.

Julián Ortega Martínez said...

The media polls were quite accurate in last July's Upper House elections, even the Asahi poll (the more optimistic on the DPJ side). Of course, things could be different as for the Lower House (and I'd like someone to explain me why).

MTC, for now it would seem unlikely to see a snap election, so we would have to wait until September. If the elections were, let's say, to be held in March, what would be more likely: a LDP-DPJ coalition [led by whom?] or a DPJ victory?