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2014年12月20日 (土)

社説:投票率の低下 もはや国民的な課題に

December 19, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Conquering decline in voter turnout has become national challenge
社説:投票率の低下 もはや国民的な課題に

The declining voter turnout could shake the foundations of Japan's democracy. The voter turnout in the Dec. 14 House of Representatives election hit a postwar low of 52.66 percent in single-seat constituencies, down 6.66 points from the previous low in 2012.
 民主主義の基盤を揺るがしかねない。衆院選の投票率は小選挙区で52.66%に落ち込み、戦後最低だった2012年を6.66ポイントも更新した。

It is true that the general election was abruptly called without points of contention that drew much attention from voters. Still, the problem is all the more serious because the downward trend in voter turnout in Japan is seen in both national and local elections. All levels of government should seriously consider measures to halt this damaging trend.
 有権者の関心が盛り上がりを欠く急な選挙だった事情もあるが、低投票率傾向は国政、地方選挙全般を通じて進行しているだけに深刻だ。国や自治体も真剣に手立てを講じなければならない。

Even though the Dec. 14 lower house election was an opportunity for voters to select which party should take power, nearly half of Japanese voters did not bother to cast a ballot. The turnout did not reach 60 percent in any of the country's 47 prefectures. Moreover, the figure fell below 50 percent in eight prefectures -- Aomori, Miyagi, Toyama, Ishikawa, Ehime, Tokushima, Fukuoka and Miyazaki. It was commonly held that voter turnout tends to be higher in rural areas than urban regions, but this is no longer true.
 政権を選ぶ選挙にもかかわらず、有権者の半分近くが今回、投票所に足を運ばなかった。投票率が60%に達した都道府県はなく、青森、宮城、富山、石川、愛媛、徳島、福岡、宮崎の8県は5割に届かなかった。「大都市圏よりも地方は投票率が高い」という従来の常識はすでに揺らいでいる。

The voter turnout in national elections declined sharply in the December 2012 lower house election, which swept the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) back into power, and the figure for the 2013 House of Councillors election was the third lowest in history. Experts say this is largely because votes of many of those who do not support any particular political party have nowhere to go.
 国政選挙は12年衆院選を境に低投票率が目立ち、昨年の参院選も過去3番目の低さだった。特定の支持政党を持たない無党派層の票が行き場を失っていることなどが影響しているとみられる。

Additionally, voter turnouts in local elections remain low, as was seen in the last Tokyo gubernatorial election earlier this year. Professor Masao Matsumoto, head of Saitama University's Social Survey Research Center and an expert in voting trend analysis, pointed out that the turnout declined in 14 of 18 mayoral elections held in Saitama Prefecture in 2013 compared to the polls previous. He then warned that it is a serious problem that the number of people casting ballots in elections for public office has been declining. The declining voter turnout should be understood as a structural problem.
 加えて、今年の東京都知事選にみられるように、自治体の選挙でも投票率は伸び悩んでいる。投票動向の分析に詳しい松本正生埼玉大学社会調査研究センター長は埼玉県内で昨年投票が実施された18市町長選挙のうち14で投票率が前回投票を下回ったことなどを指摘し「選挙離れの進行速度は深刻だ」と警告する。構造的な問題だと捉えねばなるまい。

If fewer voters go to the polls, it will increase the distance between voters and local and national governments, shaking the foundations of Japanese democracy. To prevent that, it goes without saying that political parties and individual candidates must hold in-depth debate that can draw attention from the public, while voters must be fully aware of the weight of their votes.
 「選挙離れ」が進めば政治や行政と有権者の距離を広げ、民主主義の土台をむしばむ。政党や候補が魅力ある論戦を繰り広げ、有権者は選挙権の重みを認識することが大前提であることは言うまでもない。

In particular, it is an urgent task to implement measures to raise the voter turnout among young people. The minimum voting age should be lowered from the current 20 to 18 from the standpoint of nurturing young people's awareness as sovereign citizens of Japan's democracy, and encouraging these people to make a habit of going out to vote. At schools, students should have more opportunities to learn about elections through mock voting and policy debate so that they become interested in elections before they reach adulthood.
 とりわけ、若い世代の低投票率対策は急を要する。選挙権年齢の18歳への引き下げは主権者意識を養い、早い段階で投票習慣を定着させる観点からも急がねばならない。教育現場での模擬投票や討論の学習など、これまで以上に選挙に親しむ場面を増やすべきだ。

It is also important to create an environment in which voters can cast their ballots more easily. Poll hours should be extended beyond 8 p.m., and the number of polling stations should be increased to encourage voters to use the early voting system.
 投票しやすい環境の整備も大切だ。期日前投票をより活用するために現在は午後8時までとしている投票時間の延長を認めたり、投票所を増設したりしてはどうか。

As the population is aging rapidly, it is feared that a growing number of senior citizens will be unable to go to polling stations. It is indispensable to redistribute polling stations, which have decreased in number as a result of municipal mergers, and take other steps to help elderly people go to the polls. The government should also consider allowing voters to cast their ballots at any polling station in their constituency.
 超高齢化が進み、投票所に足を運べない有権者の増加も指摘されている。市町村合併などの影響で減少した投票所の再配置など、目配りが欠かせない。選挙区が同じであれば、どの投票所でも投票できるようなシステムも検討対象となろう。

The Public Offices Election Act, which places strict regulations on election campaigns -- such as a ban on door-to-door canvassing -- should be reviewed, but there are many things that local governments can improve at their own discretion. Local elections to be held across the country next spring are an opportunity to put the brakes on the decline in voter turnout.
 戸別訪問の解禁など依然として規制の多い公選法の見直しも急ぐべきだが、自治体の工夫で取り組める部分も多いはずだ。まずは来春の統一地方選を、危うい風潮に歯止めをかける場として位置づけたい。

毎日新聞 2014年12月19日 02時30分

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