The Political Simple Life

Last month, I remarked that the global financial crisis seems to have kindled a desire for the political simple life among political, business and media elites the world over, who seek to exploit the situation in order to consolidate their own hold on power by reducing multi-party political frameworks to variations on an American style two party system. Something similar may be afoot in Japan as well. The AP reports that the withering of the Japanese economy has led to a surge of support for the Communist Party, headed by Kazuo Shii:
While the Communist Party - which is the fourth-largest party in parliament, but has only 16 of the total 722 seats - is not likely to take over anytime soon, it is making itself felt . . . [but] . . . Outside of parliament is where the Communist Party has been making its biggest strides . . . While not expected to win big, the communists are looking at modest gains when the next parliamentary elections are held - sometime before October - because of the growing unpopularity of Prime Minister Taro Aso and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The [opposition party] Democrats are dogged by scandals of their own. But Shii complained that the focus of the media on the potential emergence of a two-party system has created an even darker shadow from which his party must emerge. (Emphasis added.)
In a piece that provides a fair amount of background, Michael Auslin of the AEI considered the current state of Japan's political economy, writing:
With the upper and lower houses of the Diet controlled by different parties for the first time, Japan entered into a new political era in 2007. The result was not a strengthening of a viable two-party system, but rather political paralysis . . . The changes Japan is undergoing could result in new political parties and a more fluid economic system.

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