General support for the DPJ has dropped 5% from 32 to 27 percent. Somehow, the LDP still manages to drop a further 3% from 18 to 15%! Likewise with the question on voter’s intention for the Upper House election – the DPJ loses 2% to drop to 30%, while the LDP also drops a further 2% to 21%. The non-aligned vote for the first question is 46%, up from 37%, while the “don’t know” proportion for the upcoming election rises a further 5% to 37%.
The LDP “brand” cannot be salvaged. I think this is now clear. When I read articles such as this from Koike Yuriko, who I have some time for, I just cannot get beyond the fact she is in the LDP while over-dramatizing some of the DPJ’s dubious but as of yet unproven foibles (relative to the dirty laundry being aired out now in regards to the LDP’s historical lack of concern for democracy). No matter what sort of compelling case she makes, attacking the DPJ (fairly or unfairly) from the LDP is less than convincing.
If Masuzoe, Yosano* and the others do not jump ship now, Hatoyama K.’s decision (of all people) is going to look rather inspired. He has given himself until May to drag them with him.
Incidentally, the poll above states that 63% of the public are not particularly impressed with “Regime Change” and believe it has done not much of anything.
This may not bode well for the DPJ, but if the right moves are not made soon by potential reformists (I have doubts about Hatoyama K. on his own), then their impact might be delayed until the next Lower House election. While most of the DPJ’s reforms have been very subtle but very important ones relating to the constitutional relationship of different branches of government, we could forgive the public for not noticing in amongst most of sensationalist media coverage. However, as one would expect of a party with Ozawa in it, the actual policy trophies that the public is looking for are going to be timed to be unveiled in the lead up to the Upper House election.
While I may not expect to see the DPJ recover greatly in terms of identified party support, a reasonable resolution of Futenma plus a decisive policy programme could well lead the DPJ to getting a fair amount more than the 30% that voters would give them now. After all despite the loss of public confidence, 67% of people still believe that the result of the last election was still an improvement over a continuation of LDP governance. So, if I may take some liberties in interpreting all of this, we have the “terribleness” of the current government and their bumbling approach to various issues along with some “affronts to democracy” thrown in – but both the people and their activities are still preferable to the outright incompetence, lack of conviction and full-on disregard of democracy that we saw under the LDP.
Which all goes to show just what an interesting time it is to be a student of Japanese politics!**
* Correction – Yosano and Koike were elected by way of proportional vote in the Lower House, so they actually have reasonably little room to move unless they want to contest the upcoming Upper House election.
** Probably remiss of me to mention but Your Party might get as much as 6% if the election was held today. Probably for the meantime a smart move to snub Hatoyama K.’s overtures and see how much support he can whip up before a “realignment” to strengthen his own hand.
From the Yomiuri (J), I see there is some interesting discussion about the various LDP relationships of importance for Hatoyama in his attempt to create a third pole in the electoral system. Seems that a number of people in the party still(!) need convincing that the LDP is not a vehicle for change – some criticism from closely linked Diet members that Hatoyama K. has “left the station before everyone is onboard” so to speak. I anticipate that the LDP will live on in some form – after all, the 10 percent that steadfastly supported the Aso cabinet at the end obviously have some affection for the party.