editorial comment from the Japanese Communist Party daily Akahata
In the House of Representatives election on December 16, the Liberal Democratic Party scored a substantial victory. It won 79% of single-seat constituencies by receiving only 43% of the vote in single-seat constituencies, while obtaining 30% of proportional representation seats. This represents how the single-seat election system distorts the public will. It is an urgent requirement to drastically revise the current election system.
Major party takes all
The adverse effects of the single-seat constituency system which advantages for larger parties have often been pointed out. In the last general election in 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan obtained more than 70% of the seats with only 40% of the vote.
The election system creates a massive number of so-called “wasted” votes. In the latest election, the LDP and DPJ gained nearly 90% of Lower House seats in small-electoral districts, and 53% of 59.62 million votes cast for single-seat constituencies became wasted without having any link to elected seats. The Japanese Communist Party received 4.7 million votes in 299 single-seat blocs, but none of the candidates were elected. Considering citizens’ right to have their votes reflected in the outcome, the single-seat system obviously has a fatal flaw in this regard.
Under the single-seat system, the number of seats obtained by large parties will go up and down greatly with just a slight change in their share of the vote. The number of votes the LDP received was 2 million less than the previous election, in which the party suffered a crushing defeat, but obtained four times more seats than the last time as a result of increasing its share of the vote from 39% to 43%.
The Lower House currently has 300 members elected in small-electoral districts and 180 members elected in proportional representation blocs. It is arrogant and truly undemocratic for large parties to try to further decrease the proportional-representation seats.
Since the single-seat electoral system divides the nation into 300 constituencies, it constantly creates disparities in the value of each vote along with shifts in population. The vote-value disparity in the latest election reached a level of 2.4 (No.4 district in Chiba Pref.) to 1 (No.3 district in Kochi Pref.).
In order to correct the disparity and guarantee voters’ electoral equality, it is essential to drastically change the election system to one centered by proportional-representation blocs.