Tag Archives: general election

Tokyo election: Result is a sign of LDP losses to come

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The defeat of the Liberal Democratic Party in the Tokyo assembly election is merely a taste of what is to come for a party that has ruled Japan almost uninterrupted for more than half a century.

The LDP lost 10 seats while the opposition Democratic Party of Japan picked up 20, making it the single largest party in the 127-seat chamber and giving the opposition alliance a majority.

The reaction was immediate, with the DPJ planning to file a motion of no-confidence against the government later on Monday and Prime Minister Taro Aso reportedly telling his key aides that he would dissolve the Diet on Tuesday and set the date for the general election.

Analysts believe there is very little chance that Mr Aso will fare any better at the national level.

“He has completely outlived his usefulness to the LDP and his political capital at the moment is zero, if not negative,” said Noriko Hama, a professor at Kyoto’s Doshisha University.

“The LDP does not seem to know how to react to the crisis that it is in and that has not been lost on the electorate,” she said. “I expect this result will be repeated in the general election because the feeling amongst the voters is that this party is on the run and it needs to go.”

And while the DPJ celebrates its victory, it is clear it was built on the failure of the present government rather than any great hopes for rapid improvements in the state of the economy or Japanese society under a DPJ administration.

“It is perhaps true that the voters are blinding themselves about what will happen with a new government, but the main feeling is that we have nothing to lose under the DPJ,” said Professor Hama.

Candidates supported by the LDP have now lost in five by-elections or regional votes and Mr Aso’s support rating before Sunday’s poll stood at 20 per cent.

The only choice that appears left to him is whether he resigns, the party forces him out of office or the electorate passes its unanimous judgement on an administration that is a mere 10 months old.

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Japan PM to call election for Aug 30 – party official

in.reuters.com

Japan PM to call election for Aug 30 – party official

TOKYO -july 13 – Japan’s embattled Prime Minister Taro Aso is expected to call a general election for Aug. 30, a ruling party official told reporters on Monday.

Public broadcaster NHK said earlier Aso had reached agreement on the poll timing in a meeting with executives from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The LDP official said the lower house would be dissolved on July 21.

Some Japanese media questioned whether the election timing was a done deal, noting opposition to the move was strong inside both Aso’s LDP and the junior party in the ruling coalition.

Moves within the LDP to dump Aso were expected to grow after the ruling party and its junior partner lost their majority in a Tokyo assembly vote on Sunday. The opposition Democratic Party won the most seats.

A Democratic Party victory in the national parliament’s lower house would end half a century of nearly unbroken rule by the business-friendly LDP and raise the chance of resolving political deadlocks as Japan tries to recover from its worst recession since World War Two.

Aso told ruling party lawmakers on Sunday he planned to dissolve the lower house as early as Tuesday and was set to unveil that plan on Monday, Kyodo news agency had reported earlier.

Many in the LDP and its junior coalition partner, the New Komeito, are opposed to holding an election too soon after their defeat in the Tokyo poll, seen as a barometer for a national election due by October.

“It’s clear if parliament is dissolved now, the result would be the same as the Tokyo election,” the New Komeito’s policy chief, Natsuo Yamaguchi, told a TV Asahi programme.

LDP executive Nobuteru Ishihara said on Sunday that while a decision on when to call an election was up to Aso, time was needed to re-unite the party, suffering from voter angst over the economy and longer-term worries such as growing welfare costs.

The Democrats, hoping to intensify pressure on the ruling bloc, are considering submitting a no-confidence motion against Aso in the lower house.

The decade-old Democratic Party has capitalised on the LDP’s falling popularity in recent years, taking control of the upper house with smaller allies in 2007.

An opposition win in the general election could smooth policy implementation by resolving deadlocks in the divided parliament, but some analysts say the Democrats’ large spending plans could inflate public debt and push up government bond yields.

INTERNAL STRIFE

The long-ruling LDP has been racked by internal strife, with Aso critics openly urging an early party leadership vote to replace him while his allies defend his right to call a general election at a time of his choosing.

“There will be confusion inside the LDP. People will try to oust Aso and he will try to stay on,” said Keio University political science professor Yasunori Sone.

“It is not clear if they can oust him and if they did, would support for the LDP increase? Not much,” Sone said. “Chances the LDP could win under a new leader are very small. That has become clearer as a result of this Tokyo election.”

Possible candidates to replace Aso include Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Yoichi Masuzoe, 60, a former academic and TV commentator seen as competent and hardworking.

But Aso is Japan’s third premier to take office since Junichiro Koizumi led the party to a huge win in a 2005 election, so voters might not be impressed with another change at the top.

Japan’s biggest opposition party has its own headache.

Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama has apologised for the fact that some people listed as his political donors were dead.

Hatoyama took over as party leader in May after his predecessor stepped down to keep a separate fundraising scandal from hurting the party’s chances at the polls.

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Bosnia’s December surprise

OUT of the blue, Bosnia’s leaders have agreed to form a government, almost 15 months after the October 2010 general election. The country’s politicians had supposedly been on the verge of agreement for so long that most observers had lost faith they would ever be able to strike a deal. There was even talk of a new election.

The deal came on December 28th. “We did not get what we thought we should, but no one got everything they wanted,” said Milorad Dodik, president of the Republika Srpska, the Serbian-dominated half of the country. A corruption investigation into Mr Dodik was dropped on the same day the deal was struck. Vjekoslav Bevanda, a member of one of the two main Bosnian Croat parties, has been nominated for the post of prime minister.

Mr Dodik and the Republika Srpska usually get the blame for the failure of central institutions in Bosnia. But in this case the formation of the Council of Ministers was held up by bitter disputes between the main Croat parties and the technically multi-ethnic, but mostly Bosniak, Social Democratic Party, led by Zlatko Lagumdzija.

Surprise at the deal soon gave way to relief among many observers, although it could be three more months until the government starts work. But Anes Alic, a local analyst, is sceptical that it will bring much change to Bosnia:

What is left of the ruling parties’ mandate (with 15 months already lost) will be characterized by the traditional political obstruction and nationalist rhetoric which the majority of the electorate has grown to accept as par for the course.

Republika Srpska officials will stay the course of attempting to diminish the power of state institutions, and hints of secession will continue to circulate. Bosnian Croats will continue to work towards the creation of a third entity in the country with a Bosnian Croat majority under the perception that their ethnic identity is under threat. Bosniaks will continue to fight both without any compromise.

Bosnia is in essence a federal state, so most of the everyday work of government is the preserve of its two so-called “entities” (the Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat Federation). But the lack of a central government has stymied European integration, stopped the flow of EU funds and led to a collapse in foreign investment.

Other tasks have been neglected, too. For example, when Croatia joins the EU in July 2013 Bosnia will no longer be able to export eggs, meat and dairy produce to its neighbour because of a lack of agreement on whether it is the state or the entities that should be in charge of veterinary and sanitary regulation.

Bosnia’s leaders now say they will tackle several other outstanding issues. One of them is the so-called Sejdic-Finci ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. Under the terms of the Dayton Accords, which ended the Bosnian war in 1995, certain jobs in Bosnia are restricted by ethnicity. Only Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks are eligible for the country’s three-member presidency, for example. The court ruled two years ago that this illegally discriminates against anyone who either is not a member of one of these groups, or who does not want to identify themselves as such.

The inability of Bosnian politicians to get their act together has led to unprecedented levels of gloom about the future of the country. But as Wednesday’s deal shows, they are quite capable of working together when they want to. The pity of it is that they have wasted so much time in a country that is already lagging behind in so many areas.