In Japan, behind the victory of the conservatives, the numbness of democracy

The Liberal Democratic Party (PLD), which has dominated Japanese political life almost continuously since 1955, won the October 31 legislative elections with a slight drop in the number of its deputies, from 276 to 261 out of 465 seats in the House. low. This assures the government coalition that it forms with the centrist Komeito party a comfortable majority of 293 deputies. But when the new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, takes advantage of “The will of the people so that [son] government is shaping the country’s future ”, he is going a little too quickly at work.

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An opposition scattered over a dozen small groups struggling to appear as a credible alternation, a high abstention rate and an electoral system which gives rural constituencies a disproportionate weight compared to the cities oblige to qualify the success of the PLD. What this election has brought to light above all else is the persistent numbness in the functioning of Japanese democracy.

The abstention rate of more than 45% confirms a trend observed over the past ten years: nearly half of the electorate, in particular young people and opponents, seem to consider that a ballot does not change anything in keeping the vote. power of the PLD. Those who vote are seniors and rural dwellers – hence the conservative electorate. From 70% in 2009, the participation rate fell to just over 50%.

Reproduction of elites

The PLD seems so sure to stay in power that it ignores the expectations of the population, ignoring the wishes of the public as they appeared in the polls. It did so this summer with the holding of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which was opposed by the majority of the population, then during the election of its new president, who ipso facto makes him prime minister, given the almost automatic majority available to the PLD.

To obtain the victory of their favorite, the caciques of the party ignored the preferences of the opinion, which went to Taro Kono, minister in charge of the fight against the pandemic of Covid-19 in the outgoing government, popular and more independent than the malleable Fumio Kishida. A preference confirmed in the first round of the ballot by the representatives of the party’s members. In the second round, the parliamentarians, the only ones called to vote, took control and made prevail the instructions of their clan leaders. These decide on the distribution of portfolios and choose – an important point for outgoing deputies – the legislative candidates.

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In Japan, behind the victory of the conservatives, the numbness of democracy