Monday, October 23, 2017

Election Day 2017: Koike's ambitious run done

Election Day, Japan's Lower House, 22 October 2017

The election is over, the votes are being counted as I write, the LDP has won as expected and Koike is in Paris. Yes, really, at a conference. 

There she was in Ikebukuro last night, at 8.00pm and today she was in Paris. Says much about her energy. 

Unfortunately for her and her party's ambitions, it is not looking good. In fact, as I speculated yesterday, the RikkenDs momentum has carried them over the line and stopped Kibo in its tracks. 

The photo shows the numbers at 10:45 this evening:

The LDP-Komei coalition has 250 seats, the opposition parties 88. The government has recaptured its simple majority, the question is whether or not it will gain the required two-thirds (310 seats) for constitutional change. (Keeping in mind there are ten fewer seats in this parliament as reform continues.)

Across the two types of electorates, both Kibo and Rikken are fairly close in totals with 36 and 39 seats respectively (at 11.00pm). A few of Koike's star candidates have failed to get over the line, including her lieutenant Wakasu, who took over Koike's own electorate in Ikebukuro. This is her 'heartland' and where she launched the run on City Hall; Wakasu looks like coming in third, a real blow. 

As the results are finalised overnight and into to tomorrow, I will look more closely at seat-by-seat results. 

Suffice to say that this is not really a win which endorses Abe's constitutional revision. The momentum behind the RikkenDs is quite significant. The opposition parties, especially the RikkenDs and the JCP, now have an opportunity to consolidate and present as a stronger oppostion next time around. In their favour are several of the non-aligned independents, former Democrats who didn't affiliate with Kibo or RikkenDs and who may find a home in a revitalised RikkenDs. (Not to mention the matter of the Upper House Dems mentioned in an earlier post...)

For Koike? This is a defeat, unanticipated. It would be easy to blame it on the haste with which the party was formed and organised for the snap election. But Edano's RikkenDs was even more hastily formed and has had much more impact. Although she indicated early on she wouldn't stand, no doubt that has had some effect on the outcome; the language of 'exclusion' Koike used seemed to also offend and despite some quirky 'zero' policies, in the end, perhaps voters were unwilling to distinguish Kibo from the LDP. On this occasion, Kibo did not offer the differentiation that perhaps RikkenDs have managed. 

Koike is here for the long run though, I suspect. This election was just the lead-up to the long jump ahead. 

There is much to look at in the morning, in the cool light of a typhoon-bearing-down-on-the-coast kind of way. Literally.