Monday, December 01, 2014

Bloomberg Primer on the Election Numbers

…since you asked…

Bloomberg provides an election arithmetic primer entitled “How Low Can He Go? The Election Math for Abe to Stay in Command.” The following are how I call ‘em, including a couple of technical corrections.

1. Simple Majority of 238

Masamichi Adachi, senior economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Tokyo, said a simple majority was so low a goal as to be “absurd.”

Yes. Case closed.

2. Absolute Stable Majority of 266

This number would give the ruling coalition control of all standing committees, and thus the submission of legislation to the Diet.

More accurately, the ruling coalition would have better control of the legislative process once legislation is submitted to the Diet. But it’s not like the US Congress, where a determined chairperson could kill most bills.

3. Super Majority of 317

Abe may need a “super” majority of 317 seats in the lower house to push through legislation next year to bolster the nation’s defense stance and enable its military to defend other countries -- a policy opposed by more than half the population.

Such a majority allows the lower chamber to override decisions in the upper house, where the LDP needs its Buddhist-backed partner to make up a simple majority. The LDP has wrangled with Komeito over reinterpreting the country’s pacifist constitution.

Wait, Bloomberg is now talking about something different, an LDP supermajority, not a coalition majority, since the situation being considered is a case where Komeito won’t come along. Of course this is merely an academic exercise, since an LDP supermajority will be achieved through a combination of Sokagakkai throwing its votes as usual to LDP candidates in the single-seat races and a very low turnout (this time around anyway). Such an improbable outcome will leave the LDP even more indebted to Komeito. That’s not conducive to PM Abe getting his way on collective self-defense and international security. In any case, it’s much more difficult to achieve than 4…

4. More than 325 seats

Even so, a larger majority is unlikely, said Steven Reed, professor of politics at Chuo University in Tokyo, with the opposition parties coordinating to offer a unified alternative in many constituencies.

Exactly. The sum of the 2012 Lower house election votes in the regional proportional districts was comfortably higher for the DPJ, Your Party (requiescat in pace), and the Japan Restoration Party (now Japan Innovation Party) than for the LDP and Komeito. The media will continue to give space to opposition criticism of Abenomics in the two week run-up to the voting. That said, the DPJ will fail to catch serious traction, while JIP will also languish, Toru Hashimoto being well-past his consume-by date, which means…

5. Low Turnout

A smaller voter turnout would be positive for the Abe administration, Shinichi Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Credit Suisse in Tokyo, wrote in an e-mailed note on Nov. 28


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