AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

A correction–but the point still stands

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, September 5, 2009

AFTER SUNDAY’S ELECTION, I wrote in the Afterwords section that Yosano Kaoru wasn’t selected as a proportional representative candidate, even though he had more votes than two other LDP candidates and one DPJ candidate.

As someone pointed out in the Comments section, Mr. Yosano was in fact selected. It turns out that the edition of the newspaper I used to write the Afterwords section did not have the absolutely positively final results. I’m sorry for any confusion that might have caused.

However!

I’m now looking at the edition of the newspaper with the final results. In Tokyo’s proportional representation bloc, the DPJ’s Hayakawa Kumiko was selected upon receiving 106,892 votes, though she lost the direct election in her district. She was listed at the top of the DPJ table. Former Cabinet minister Koike Yuriko of the LDP was also selected after receiving 96,739 votes, though she also lost the direct election in her district.

Meanwhile, another direct election loser, Sato Yukari of the LDP, eighth on the list of LDP PR candidates, received 121,244 votes, yet was not selected for the Diet (only five LDP members in the Tokyo bloc cleared the hurdle). In fact, she received more than Kamoshita Ichiro, who was listed first in the LDP table. He got 111,590 people to vote for him.

My original point stands: Any system that allows this to happen, regardless of the identity of the candidates or their party, and regardless of the reason, is profoundly undemocratic.

5 Responses to “A correction–but the point still stands”

  1. Paul said

    Being undemocratic isn’t necessarily bad. Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner.

  2. Garrett said

    So are you advocating the abolition of the PR system or saying that the voters in a PR block should not be allowed to vote for the party they want in the PR race independently of the SMD results? Either way, wouldn’t any attempt to redress such “undemocratic” results give you something even less democratic?

    It looks a lot more democratic when you look at the two questions separately: the single-member district race is one thing and the proportional representation race is another. In order to allow the parties to put their best people in position (as they see it), people are allowed to run in both races.

    That a second-place finisher would not get a seat while a third-place finisher does is irrlevant because the PR race is not based on the results of the SMD race beyond the fact that the winner of an SMD race cannot occupy two seats at once.

    Is the parties’ ranking of members on the PR list really any less democratic than the ruling party’s internally electing a president, according to internal rules, and, thus, choosing the PM? Or than parties choosing Cabinet appointments by whatever means they feel like?

    I think you might be drawing too much of a connection between two separate races.

  3. ampontan said

    (A)re you advocating the abolition of the PR system…

    No, because I don’t have Japanese citizenship.

    I see no merit in a PR system, either from a practical or a moral perspective.

    (W)ouldn’t any attempt to redress such “undemocratic” results give you something even less democratic?

    No.

  4. TKYCraig said

    It is interesting that higher vote getters listed lower on the ticket are not elected c.f. those higher. I dont really think this is undemocratic though, as (for example) Sato Yukari of the LDP, eighth on the list of LDP PR candidates, received 121,244 votes in an election against some-one else, and not against Koike Yuriko of the LDP (receiving 96,739 votes).
    It would be undemocratic if they were running head-to-head.

    What the system in this case seems to have is preferred (more senior) candidates of one party being given a better chance of being re-elected than others, regardless of your individual performance vs. others.
    The party list PR system does this all the time… star performers / senior politicians etc get higher up on the list to protect them and re-elect them.
    So 8th place on a list (and a stack of votes) means you may not get a seat at the table.

    Also, what could also be shown (and I haven’t checked the figures), is that there may be an imbalance in the voters per electorate as well… the case above is different by about 25,000 and yet still didnt win

  5. Bryce said

    “Either way, wouldn’t any attempt to redress such “undemocratic” results give you something even less democratic?”

    Yes, and what is more undemocratic: A system that either subjects third party votes to the waste paper bin, or a system that allows for a certain amount of representation by parties that a significant number of the electorate voted for? I think the problem with Japan’s system is that it is not proportional enough.

    In any case, aren’t lists made public before the election. In that case, how is this undemocratic? If voters don’t like the ranking of candidates they can just choose to vote for another party. How come you think SMD competition should “trump” PR candidates? Democracy is not simply about the representation of regional interests, after all. There is a trend towards thinking about policy at a national level in Japan, which I see as a positive development, and the PR candidates, which are less beholden to regional interests, tend to contribute to this trend.

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