Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Popularity Of Constitutional Revision, As A Concept

One of the reliable, longtime "Yes...but" caveats has been that while Japan's politicians, particular the Diet members of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Japan Restoration Association, are essentially unanimous in their desire for revisions of the Constitution, the general populace does not share their enthusiasm.

Last week's public opinion polls seem to drive a spike into this chestnut. While the data still finds that the general public is not as enthusiastic about constitutional reform as the denizens of the Diet, a clear majority of respondents would still like to the election of a House of Councillors where more than two-thirds of the seats are held by pro-revision Senators -- 2/3rds majority in that House being the only real road block to constitutional revision.

The Kyodo News poll of March 30-31 had the following question and answers:

Currently, in the House of Representatives, 2 out of 3 members wish to revise the Constitution. In reality, in order to initiate a revision of the Constitution, 2/3rds majorities are necessary in both Houses of the Diet. What do you think would be the best outcome for the House of Councillors election?

That 2 out 3 members of the House of Councillors are in favor of constitutional revision

That the number of members of the Councillors in favor of constitutional revision be less than 2 out of 3

Don't know/Don't care

In the NHK News poll April 4-5(Link – J video) the question is and answers are:

In the results of the House of Councillors election taking place this summer, would you find it desirable or undesirable that political forces in favor of constitutional revision come out holding 2 out of 3 seats?

Desirable 20%

If I had to choose, I would say desirable 37%

If I had to choose, I would say undesirable 20%

Undesirable 12%

The public opinion polls will likely be revisiting this question. A rephrasing of the question may shift a few percentage points in either direction -- but probably not by much in the negative direction.

In the aggregate, a clear majority of the electorate is ready, or at least wants the House of Councillors ready, to revise the Constitution.

As to what about the Constitution the voters want to change most, that question is largely left up in the air. The NHK polls does find that voters have not been convinced by the Abe-led LDP's hard sell of a revision of Article 96, the article that mandates revision by 2/3rds majorities in both Houses and a majority in a national referendum:

As regards constitutional revision, Article 96 requires first of all that over 2/3rds of the members of both the House of Representatives and House of Councillors be in favor of a revision. Are you in favor of a lowering of the threshold for constitutional revision, such as is proposed by Prime Minister Abe?

In favor 28%

Opposed 24%

Cannot say either way 42%

That big undecided chunk of voters means real opportunities for political entrepreneurs to ply their trade over the next few months.

No comments: