I’ve been reading with interest all week about the New Reform Party that was set up by Masuzoe Yoichi. Already, it has six members in Japan’s Upper House (larger than junior coalition partner Mizuho Fukushima’s Social Democrats or Shaminto).
I have been trying to figure out what Masuzoe aims to accomplish, and I think it’s this: If the New Reform Party can garner 12 or 13 seats in the July 11 Upper House election, it could effectively deny the DPJ and its junior partners a working majority in that house. This would mean that the party could block any bills the DPJ wants to pass in the next couple years, or alternatively, name their terms if the DPJ wants to strike a deal with them.
I did a quick Excel spreadsheet to put numbers on what I think would have to happen in July for this scenario to play out. I am no expert on Japanese local politics, so I really have no idea what the actual results might be. I assume the current seat holders under the district system keep their seats, and that the proportional seats are awarded based on straight percentage–even though there is some small hurdle (like in the German) system that has to be crossed.
Under a scenario where the New Reform Party (“Other”) cuts into both LDP and DPJ and takes 20% of the vote, it might pick up an extra 10 seats for a total of 16.
These 16 seats weaken the current tri-party DPJ, SPD and PNP coalition, in which they now hold together 118 seats. (They get a majority with the help of a few independents.) The three party coalition would only have 111, and would have to convince either most all the independents to join them, or make some other sizable change to keep a working majority.
[Update: This is what my chart looks like, considering the additional information per poster “LB”:
So if the single-seat holders keep theirs, it’s taking the projection down to 13. Still, it would make the Shin Kaikaku (New Reform Party) one of the larger minor parties. And still, it would mean that DPJ would have to cut deals to get anything passed (likely), or call another Lower House election to try and get a 2/3rds majority to override (highly unlikely).]