Early Elections Called in Japan
Via the BBC: Japan PM Shinzo Abe calls snap election in December
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called an early election, two years ahead of schedule.
At a news briefing, he said he would dissolve parliament later this week and was also delaying a planned but unpopular increase in sales tax.
Mr Abe was elected two years ago with an ambitious plan to revive the economy, but has struggled to do so.
His popularity has fallen but he is expected to win the election, which will take place in mid-December.
"I will dissolve the lower house on 21 [November]," Mr Abe said.
Mr Abe’s party, the Liberal Democrats, already have a majority in the lower house, but analysts said Mr Abe hoped to consolidate power over an opposition party which is in disarray.
He also wants public support to continue to press ahead with "Abenomics", his ambitious plan to kick-start Japan’s stagnant economic growth using heavy government spending and economic reforms.
"I need to hear the voice of the people," Mr Abe said. "I will step down if we fail to keep our majority because that would mean our Abenomics is rejected."
I must confess, the ability to be able to hold elections in a way that directly gives the voters the chance to speak on the policy direction of the country makes me a bit jealous.
For those unfamiliar: in parliamentary systems the PM can call early elections and this is done for a variety of strategic reasons. In this case Abe clearly is concerned that his declining popularity would make reelection difficult in 2016 (and influence policy actions in the short term). This move could lead to a) an affirmation of his policies, and b) an extension of his party’s control of parliament and, therefore, the government (i.e., keeping him and his ministers in the executive).