Sunday, July 14, 2013

Do The Forces Of Constitutional Revision Have A Chance? (1)

Though campaigning on constitutional revision has died down, except for the noises emanating from the candidates of the Japan Restoration Party and fringe rightists in the pro- and the Japan Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party in the anti-camps, commentators outside Japan are still talking about a post-election push for constitutional revision by a radically empowered Abe Shinzo.

Assuming the desirability of actual revision (If the opposition is annihilated and the constitution changed, who then can be blamed for continued failure and drift?) is such an outcome even technically possible? Do the forces for revision have the technical means of achieving their seat targets -- i.e. do the parties in favor of revision have enough candidates in the right places?

First, how many seats do they need? Mathematically, 2/3 of 242 is 161.333…. Ostensibly, the three parties would have to end up with 162 seats.

However, the Speaker of the House and Deputy Speaker, who are selected from the two largest caucuses, are under extreme pressure to behave in a non-partisan fashion. Symbolically, they take leave from their party membership during their terms in office. The Speaker in particularly would almost certainly abstain from a constitutional vote.

[Sorry MTC - but that the Speaker of the House would abstain would increase, not decrease the number of seats needed. The constitutional requirement is 2/3rds of the members of a House, not 2/3rds of those present at the vote. 162 is the number and will always be the number, at least until such time as the number of seats in the House of Councillors gets changed - Ed.]

So the actual number of seats the parties must have is 161 162.

The three major parties on record in favor of revising the Constitution are the JRP, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Your Party. They currently hold seats 61 not up for reelection this cycle:

Seats Not Up For Election: District

LDP 38
Your 3

Seats Not Up For Election: Proportional
LDP 12
Your 7
So in this cycle the three parties need to win 100 101 seats to have the barest minimum of the seats necessary for changes to the Constitution.

In the raw numbers, the three parties have sufficient candidates -- 78 for the LDP, 44 for the JRP and 34 for the Your Party.

Candidates For Seats Up For Election: District

LDP 49
JRP 14
Your 17

Seats Not Up For Election: Proportional
LDP 29
JRP 30
Your 15

However, are these candidates dispersed in meaningful or effective way?

To simplify matters, let us assume that all of the district candidates of the LDP all win election. T'is not an unreasonable assumption, in light of the election of all the LDP candidates in last month's Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election. The assumption of dominance glosses over the potential for bastions -- where particular opposition parties cannot lose due to long time support of particular political families. However, given the the overwhelming national support (>40% in most polls) for the LDP, the viability of any of these bastions is called into question. Furthermore, since we are calculating the total number of seats in favor of constitutional revision, if the winner is the JRP or Your Party candidate then the LDP loss is irrelevant to the total.

So after all the LDP district candidates win, how many district seats are left?

Normally, one would say 24 (73 totals seats - 49 LDP wins = 24). However, the LDP's coalition partner, the New Komeito, which is chary of constitutional revision, is running candidates in 4 multi-seat prefectures: Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa and Osaka. These candidates will win handily, meaning there are 20 open seats for opposition parties, in the following distribution:

Hokkaido 1
Miyagi 1
Ibaraki 1
Saitama 1
Chiba 1
Tokyo 2
Kanagawa 2
Niigata 1
Nagano 1
Shizuoka 1
Aichi 2
Kyoto 1
Osaka 2
Hyogo 1
Hiroshima 1
Fukuoka 1

Now here is that same list, with competition between the candidates running on pro-revision JRP and Your Party tickets and the anti-revision Democratic Party of Japan ticket.

Hokkaido 1 (YP, DPJ)
Miyagi 1 (YP, DPJ)
Ibaraki 1 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Saitama 1 (YP, DPJ)
Chiba 1 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Tokyo 2 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Kanagawa 2 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Niigata 1 (JRP, DPJ)
Nagano 1 (YP,DPJ)
Shizuoka 1 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Aichi 2 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Kyoto 1 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Osaka 2 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Hyogo 1 (JRP, YP, DPJ)
Hiroshima 1 (JRP, DPJ)
Fukuoka 1 (JRP, YP, DPJ)

Your Party leader Watanabe Yoshimi made a great show of breaking off election cooperation with the JRP after JRP co-leader Hashimoto Toru's idiotic remarks as regards the sex slaves of the Imperial era and the need for U.S. Marines to frequent Okinawan sexual services establishments. However, despite the acrimonious breakup the two parties largely do not work at cross purposes in eastern Japan, which is Watanabe's region. They do get in each other's way a lot though, in western Japan. The three parties are locked in a death struggle in over a single seat in Chiba, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka prefectures.

The DPJ, despite its severely weakened state, will win a few of these remaining district seats. The Japan Communist Party has also a decent chance, given its strong showing in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly elections, to win a seat in Tokyo. A tiny number might go to independents and other parties.

If the DPJ can win 5 of the 20 seats and the Communists, other parties and independents win 2, the opposition forces in favor of revision walk away with 13 district seats. When added to the 49 wins by the LDP, the running total is 62.

Which means the LDP, the JRP and Your Party have to win 38 39 seats in the proportional votes to reach the magical 100 seats level.

How realistic is 38 39, out of the total 48 proportional seats up for elections?

(to be continued)


jaichind said...

My prediction is

Party Constituency PR Vote PR Seat Total
LDP 48 36.1% 18 66
NKP 4 14.0% 7 11
DPJ 16 18.0% 9 25
JRP 1 8.8% 4 5
YP 2 8.0% 4 6
JCP 1 9.6% 4 5
SDP 0 2.0% 1 1
Ozawa 0 2.2% 1 1
Others 1 1.3% 0 1

Where the Others is the independent in Okinawa(沖縄), JRP would win a district seat in Osaka(大阪), YP win district seats in (Kanagawa) 神奈川and Aichi(愛知), and JCP would win a district seat in Tokyo (東京).

Most of the polls has LDP PR vote in the low 40s does not take into account that right now it is "cool" to be for LDP but when come election day a lot of these "LDP supports" will not vote. Because of TPP, LDP is losing some rural votes which will hurt. Also many polls show a slide in the support in the Abe cabinet and when asked many people say they are for Abe policies but report they are not benefiting from Abe policies. These people will most likely not vote. Turnout will be low which should help NKP and JCP. DPJ will be hurt by low turnout just like 2012 but low turnout also means that these poll numbers like 40%+ for LDP are also bogus.

I may have a egg on my face 7/21 if LDP wins 40%+ in the PR vote but I insist the LDP would be lucky to get 36-37% in the PR vote. And I think there is an outside chance that LDP would lose one of Iwate (岩手), Shiga (滋賀), or Mie (三重) in the single district seats, especially Mie where a long standing popular DPJ incumbent is running. My prediction for 65 seats for LDP is already giving it a lot of benefit of the doubt. We will see 7/21.

MTC said...

jaichind -

I agree with you for the most part in the district splits.

In PR section estimates, I think you are not taking into sufficient account the magnifying effects of low voter turnout.