Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What I Say? The Increasingly Inevitable Snap Election

An alcohol-fueled self-commentary follows:

There has been a lot of talk out there that says Abe should call a snap election if he decides to postpone the consumption tax hike. They’ve got it ass-backwards. Abe decides to go to the polls, then he decides to postpone. Think about it. Postponement is tantamount to an implicit admission that Abenomics isn’t working, and that’s why Abe would dissolve the House of Representatives? Look, the number appear to be mixed enough to justify either conclusion, and it was not quite rational, if otherwise impractical, to allow the 2014Q3 numbers to dictate a decision on a tax hike for 2015Q4 in the first place. The reason for a snap election must be something else, something less publicly mentionable, if all too understandable.

Now, the Abe administration’s public poll numbers aren’t all that bad, and should get a modest boost from the Abe-Xi summit, while the opposition is in no shape to fight one. The more time goes by, the more uncertainty there is, with an accordingly growing downside risk. That’s reason enough for many members of the ruling coalition to want to get it over with now, so that the winners can get an extra two years tacked on to their terms.

Abe, of course, needs a fig leaf. Since losing two newly-appointed cabinet ministers to political financing scandals and retaining two more as a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils won’t work, seeking a public mandate on the consumption tax hike postponement turns out to be the best available excuse.

Other than that, this SCMP article is a reasonable abbreviation of my thoughts around the now-almost certain snap election.

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