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2014年3月 4日 (火)

衆院選挙制度 第三者機関で党利党略を排せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 03, 2014
Draw on advice of 3rd-party panel to exclude party interests from reform
衆院選挙制度 第三者機関で党利党略を排せ(3月3日付・読売社説)

The ruling and opposition parties should not waste any more time and make solid progress toward election system reform.

A third-party panel of experts is expected to be set up under the speaker of the House of Representatives to discuss the details.

The latest development is a result of the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito accepting the request made by five opposition parties—the Democratic Party of Japan, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), Your Party, Yui no To and the People’s Life Party.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed in June last year the establishment of a third-party organ to find a way out of deadlocked discussions between the ruling and opposition camps over election system reform.

Yet both sides only asserted that it was rational to reach a conclusion to the issue through discussions by legislators and failed to reach a consensus. This was a pathetic development, indeed.

The opposition parties have called for the establishment of the third-party organ because, they argued, the ruling parties have refused to accept their proposals. One of the two proposals calls for adding five seats in three populous prefectures while scrapping a total of 30 seats in as many prefectures, and the other calls for cutting a total of 18 seats in the same number of less populated prefectures while newly allocating a total of three seats to two populous prefectures.

The LDP won 80 percent of the seats allocated to the single-seat electoral districts in the previous lower house election, and probably does not want to touch the quota of the seats in the single-seat electoral districts, whose adjustment is highly likely to be met with resistance. The LDP is calling for a cut of 30 seats allocated through proportional representation.

In the end, both the ruling and opposition parties are pursuing their own party interests. They have only proved that when it comes to reform, considering the relative merits and demerits of the parties’ proposals, they cannot achieve anything on their own.

The important point in having the third-party organ discuss the election system is to have the entity made up of a small number of experts who are detached from party interests.

Parties should also agree in advance that they will give serious consideration to the proposals recommended by the experts and incorporate them into legislation.

Make proposals binding

The election system is directly tied to the rise and fall of the parties. Any proposal may induce opposition from both camps. Yet it will be meaningless to pass discussion of the issue into the hands of the experts unless their proposals are binding.

The DPJ and other opposition parties have proposed a reduction in the number of lower house seats as an issue to be discussed by the third-party panel.

They assert that both the ruling and opposition parties should “cut our own flesh” by reducing the number of lower house legislators, as the public has been called on to assume a heavier burden with the hike in the consumption tax rate in April. Yet such assertions, seemingly made to curry public favor, smack of populism.

An attempt to cut their own flesh would be far more effective if it involved cutting the annual allowances paid to Diet members and party subsidies.

The Supreme Court ruled last year that the results in the single-seat electoral districts in the lower house election held in December 2012 were “in a state of unconstitutionality,” due to the vote-value disparity.

It is important to respond to the request from the court, but there are more aspects involved in the election system reform to consider.

Just 20 years have passed since the enactment of the laws related to political reform, which centered on the introduction of the current system that combines single-seat constituencies with the proportional representation system. Various merits and demerits of the system have already become obvious.

The third-party organ must examine the system comprehensively. We hope for an open discussion that takes a long hard look at the real substance of the election system.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March, 3, 2014)
(2014年3月3日02時12分  読売新聞)


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