Thursday, November 15, 2012

Election time yet again

New job, so posting will be slow for a bit. I just wanted to give a heads up that we'll have a new election again here in December. It's a mixed bag.

The election will be won by Shinzo "tummyache" Abe, a hard-line nationalist. Bad news; but he proved adept at not accomplishing anything the last time he had the Prime Ministers post, and most of the real power lies with the bureaucracy anyhow, so the practical effect will be quite limited.

A rather serious complication is that the election will most likely be tainted. The High Court has said the current voting power disparity is unconstitutional; if the parties all agree to basically ignore the ruling the election will proceed and produce an allotment of seats (it's not like the court will send out bailiffs to close voting booths and arrest candidates), but that doesn't change the fundamental legal situation. Any mandate the winners may feel they have will be further eroded by this, leaving the central bureaucracy and local governments even more slack to ignore the administration.

The true reliability of a complex system is really defined not by how well it works, but how well it fails. A resilient system that fails and recovers gracefully is much preferable to a high-performing but brittle system with catastrophic failure modes. I'm coming to suspect the Japanese political system is going to fail rather spectacularly once the wheels well and truly come off.

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