Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Greece goes back to the polls

Greece, a country seriously economically damaged by the Global Financial Crisis, has been forced into an early election after the Greek Parliament failed to elect a President. Under the Greek Constitution, the President is expected to win three-fifths of the vote in Parliament, or 180 votes, to be elected. If no candidate wins 180 votes in Parliament, an election is held. My previous post on Greece provides some background.

The term of office of the incumbent Greek President, Karolos Papoulias, has recently expired, and the Greek Parliament must therefore elect a replacement. The table below shows the current balance of power in the Greek Parliament.
Balance of power in the Greek Parliament. Click on the picture for a close-up
The government consists of the New Democracy and Panhellenic Socialist (PASOK) parties. This coalition has 155 seats in the Greek Parliament. This is 25 votes short of the majority needed to elect a president.

One candidate was nominated for the presidency: New Democracy member Stavros Dimas. At the first ballot, Dimas recieved 160 votes. This is the votes from the coalition, plus 5 independents. The remaining members either voted 'present' or abstained.

At the second ballot, Dimas recieved 8 more votes, but was still short by 12. At this point, government members were furiously lobbying members of potentially friendly parties, like Democratic Left. However, the third ballot resulted in a failure by Dimas to recieve 180 votes. Three ballots are allowed before an election is called.

Who will win an election?

At present, the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) is leading New Democracy in the polls by 4-6 points. Under Greece's electoral law, the party with the most votes wins a 50 seat bonus. This means that SYRIZA will be the largest party by a comfortable margin  if these polls are correct. However, with undecided voters in polls included, they have a relatively low vote (below 30%), meaning that they may not win a majority, or even come close. 

Out of all the other parties, SYRIZA have few friends. New Democracy and PASOK think that they are too leftist and anti-establishment, they are hated by the far-right in Golden Dawn for being leftist, and the Communists hate them for some reason to do with ideology (it's complicated). As a result, there may be some effort by members of other parties to tactically vote for New Democracy to stop SYRIZA. This may also mean that even if SYRIZA are the largest party, they would be unable to form a government.

It is worth pointing out that Golden Dawn's polling has recently dropped somewhat, and it has returned to the levels of the last election. The Independent Greeks vote has also dropped dramatically from the last election.

Now, the New Democracy polling has stayed much the same from the last election. And there is no way of telling where the Golden Dawn and Independent Greeks vote is going (as far as I know). However, New Democracy's leader, Antonis Samaras, was very confident in nominating Dimas, a politically polarising figure, for the office of President. If he didn't want an election, it would be possible to nominate a consensus candidate with the support of the independents. Instead, he may have it all planned out. It still seems like an odd way to solve a governability crisis.

After an election is held, a presidential candidate can be elected with a simple majority. This means that the government after the election will be able to chose the president.

Golden Dawn appears to have peaked, and is unlikely to win more seats at this election. Independent Greeks will likely lose seats. PASOK will also probably lose seats, even if they do disguise themselves as the 'Olive Tree' like in the Euro-elections. Democratic Left will be wiped out. The River , a centrist liberal party formed by journalist Stavros Theodokrais, will gain seats, and may be useful in supporting a pro-Euro government.

In short, this election is unlikely to improve Greece's political and economic stability. Any election will worry investors, and the possibility, however remote, of a SYRIZA victory will scare them even more.

For those who found that depressing, here are some goats playing on metal sheeting. Have a happy new year, readers!

Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Swedish election cancelled

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven
Sweden has been a well-covered topic on this blog, and for those starting anew, here is my post on the 2014 election, and here is my post on the proposed 2015 election. 

Anyway, the proposed 2015 election has been called off, after a deal between the centre-left Social Democrat-Green coalition and the centre-right Moderate-Liberal-Centre-Christian Democrat alliance to pass a budget.

In effect, it is a coalition agreement between the centre-left and centre-right. The centre-right, having more seats than the centre-left, will propose a budget. The centre-left will form government, and they will be permitted to change the budget somewhat. The centre-right will abstain on the budget. Both groups will have a common policy on pensions, military issues, and energy.This deal will last until 2022, remaining in force even after the next scheduled election in 2018. 

So, what does this mean for Sweden's future?

The coalition will be able to control Parliament, but it will come at a price. The far-right Sweden Democrats will gain significantly in the polls after an event like this. People who voted for a centre-right party thinking that they would be helping to elect a centre-right government may feel betrayed by the deal, and may respond to the centre-right's behaviour by voting for the far-right.

This idea is borne out by multiple cases. From 2005 to 2009, Germany was led by a grand coalition between Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democrats. Merkel became Chancellor, and the Social Democrats were perceived as sellouts. At the 2009 election, the Social Democrats lost 11% of the vote compared to 2005, with the Greens and Left parties gaining by about 3 points each. 

In Austria, the 2006 election was followed by a grand coalition between the centre-right Austrian People's Party and the Social Democrats. The Social Democrats got the prime ministership. When the Austrian People's Party pulled out of coalition, an election was called. At that election, both parties lost votes to the far-right, but the People's Party's losses were heavier.

In short, it is probable that the 2018 Sweden election will result in  losses for the centre-right and gains for the far-right. The current coalition will almost certainly control parliament from 2018 to 2022, but the tide of the Sweden Democrats will not be turned by this coalition, at least electorally.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

NSW Labor-6 leaders in 9 years

Former NSW Labor leader John Robertson. Credit:Local Government and Shires Association of New South Wales

New South Wales's Labor Party leader John Robertson has quit, in circumstances that revolve around a letter he allegedly signed  recommending that Sydney Lindt gunman  Man Haran Mounis be released on Father's Day to meet his son.

This is a relatively minor sin, compared to the recent acts of some NSW politicians. However, NSW Labor is understandably terrified of any sort of major scandal, given that they are only just recovering from an unpopular term of government in which some very serious scandals involving Labor MPs were exposed.

The 2011 election was a disaster for NSW Labor (results here), but the election was one only the hopelessly delusional thought Labor would win. Liberal leader Barry O'Farrell was elected to the Premiership, and proceeded to govern for a relatively uneventful 3 years. O'Farrell is generally considered to be a moderate within his party, and he was able to, more or less, unite a rabble of an opposition.

However, O'Farrell resigned after he failed to disclose to the Independent Commission against Corruption that he received a $3000 bottle of wine from the CEO of a water company involved in controversial deals with NSW's water supply. He was replaced by State Treasurer Mike Baird, who is regarded as more of a conservative.

Robertson's leadership came about after the 2011 election, when he won the lower house seat of Blacktown, but with a 19% swing against Labor. He was previously a member of the upper house, and before that a secretary of Unions NSW.

He was elected NSW Labor leader unopposed, and didn't do much until, in October 2013, he revealed that he had been offered a $3 million bribe by businessman and property developer Michael McGurk in 2006. McGurk was murdered in 2009, and was accused of involvement in shady deals, so it is not especially shocking that he offered the bribe, but for Robertson to keep it secret for years is rather odd, especially given that Robertson turned down the bribe and would not have been personally implicated in any investigation.

Anyway, Robertson bumbled along for a bit, failing to do much to improve Labor's performance in the opinion polls. Labor was stuck below 40% two-party preferred until 2014, but they still trailed the Liberals by a comfortable margin, under both O'Farrell and Baird. While it is rather rash to suggest that Labor could make up the difference in NSW after a landslide in 2011, Queensland Labor has managed to close the polling gap significantly despite receiving an absolute pasting in 2012. This may have more to do with the fact that the Queensland government has been significantly more controversial than the NSW government.

However, Robertson is now gone. I don't know much about succesors, but currently Michael Daley, the Shadow Treasurer, has announced that he wants the job, while Luke Foley, the upper house leader. and Linda Burney, the deputy leader, have all been suggested as candidates. Leading NSW Labor into the 2015 election looks like a suicide mission, and a wise candidate will do well to distance themselves from any loss.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The strange case of the Alberta Wildrose Party

Alberta, a province in the West of Canada, has traditionally had one of the most stable and uncompetitive political environments in the world. However, recently Alberta's political environment has become oddly unstable, and a series of events has taken place involving a new political party known as Wildrose that have surprised many. The party has split, and the majority of members have left to join the government.

The Singapore of the west

Alberta is the fourth most populated province in Canada, and is the second richest per capita. Its large oil reserves have kept them wealthy, and this wealth has fathered a sense of political confidence and complacency.

Albertans have never elected a party that they previously threw out of power. Government has been formed by the Liberal Party, the United Farmers Party (progressivism, social democracy), the Social Credit Party (social conservatism), and the Progressive Conservative Party (also conservative). Governments have also been long-term. No Albertan government has served for less than 14 years in office. 

The United Farmers Party was elected in 1921, and, rather oddly for a progressive party in that era, repealed Prohibition, which had been introduced by the previous Liberal government. They did introduce mandatory sterilisation for the disabled, which seems rather unsettling. However, the United Farmers coped poorly with the Great Depression, and were wiped off the map in 1935 and replaced with the Social Credit Party, led by William Aberhart. 

Social Credit introduced some good ideas, some bad ideas, and some utterly crackpot ideas under Aberhart. One of these ideas was the Accurate News Act, which would have required all Albertan newspapers to print "corrections" of stories that Social Credit members of parliament did not agree with. This bill was knocked back by State Governor John Bowen, in one of the rare cases of state Governors using their fearsome "reserve powers". 

Aberhart died in 1943, and was replaced by the more moderate Ernest Manning. Manning dumped Social Credit as an ideology, and introduced a more mainstream conservative ideology. He led his party to seven consecutive electoral victories, and rarely faced an opposition  of more than 10. Alberta had too few opposition MPs for an opposition leader from 1959 to 1963.

In 1971, the Social Credit Party, under the leadership of Manning successor Harry Strom, was thrown out of office. They lost to Peter Lougheed of the Progressive Conservative Party (PC).  Social Credit won 25 seats in the 75 member Parliament, while the PCs won 49 seats and one New Democrat (social democracy) was elected.

Lougheed  liberalised some of Alberta's more repressive laws about social issues, but didn't do much different. Social Credit collapsed, and won only 4 seats in 1975. They spluttered on for a few more years, but finally left parliament in 1982, when the PCs won 75 out of 79 seats. The other four went to 2 independents and 2 New Democrats. 

In 1985, Lougheed retired. He was replaced by the less popular Don Getty, a football player. Under the leadership of Getty. the Progressive Conservatives lost 14 seats in 1985. While they still won 61 out of 83 seats, they faced a more strengthened opposition of 16 New Democrats, 4 Liberals, and 2 members of the Representative Party (a social-credit style party).

Getty was replaced by Ralph Klein, a more popular Progressive Conservative. The 1993 election, Klein's first as leader, was a polarised contest between him and Liberal leader Lawrence Decore, with the New Democrats being wiped out. Klein won 51 out of 83 seats, with the Liberals winning 32.

For the next 18 years, Klein comfortably won election after election. In 2008, Klein's successor Ed Stelmach was elected, winning 72 seats. 

The rise of Wildrose

In 2011, Stelmach resigned as Premier. His unpopularity was growing, but Progressive Conservative support was not flowing to the Liberals or New Democrats. Instead, it was flowing to a new force; the Wildrose Party.

Formed in 2008 as the Wildrose Alliance, the party was a very conservative party that complained that the PCs have moved too far to the left. The party won no seats in 2008, but came very close to retaining the seat of its only MP; Paul Hinman, who had joined the party from the similar Alberta Alliance.

The Progressive Conservatives chose Alison Redford, a moderate within the Progressive Conservatives. Redford's centrist style alienated many within the PCs, and Wildrose began to lead in the polls. The prospect of a government change in Alberta was on the cards; and in Alberta, when governments change, they change for good.

The 2012 Alberta election was the closest contest in years. Wildrose started out with a lead in the polls, but Redford campaigned hard, appealing to Liberal voters scared of a Wildrose government to vote for her to stop Wildrose. Embarrassing gaffes by Wildrose candidates, like Alan Hunsburger, an Edmonton candidate, who wrote a ranting blog post claiming that homosexuals would "suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell". This did not go down well, as did leader Danielle Smith's refusal to disendorse Hunsburger.

In the end, Redford won. Her Progressive Conservatives won 61 seats in the 87 member parliament, a loss of 11 seats from 2008. Wildrose won 17 seats off 35% of the vote, while the Liberals suffered a massive drop in terms of votes, falling from 26% in 2008 to just 10%. The Liberals appear to have been a victim of tactical voting; Liberals may have voted PC to stop Wildrose. However, they managed to win 5 seats, down from 8 in 2008. The New Democrats won 10% and 4 seats.

However, Redford's support didn't improve after 2012. Cuts to higher education, poor relations with unions, and expenses scandals caused dramatic drops in both support for Redford and support for her party. Redford's approval rating dipped below 20%, and Canadian election prediction blog ThreeHundredEight predicted that under some poll results, the PCs would win 9 seats under Redford's leadership.

With the knives out, on March 19, Redford quit. She was replaced temporarily by Dave Hancock and permenantly by Jim Prentice, a former federal environment and industry minister.  Prentice was a far more popular figure than Redford, and under his leadership a number of controversial initiatives were terminated in an effort to placate unions. Prentice's (relatively) clean record in federal government gave him a better image than Redford

So, what did this mean for Wildrose? Well, it was a bit of a shake up. The party that gained strength off the claimed centrism of Stelmach and Redford had some trouble against someone who at least appeared to be a populist conservative in their mould.

On November 2, Wildrose MP Joe Anglin left the caucus. Smith had threatened to expel Anglin from the Wildrose caucus due to criticism of party advisors, and he was already disendorsed in advance of the next election. It seems that Anglin has left because of dissatisfaction with Wildrose, rather than any attraction towards the PCs, as he became an independent.

On the 24th of the same month, another two Wildrose members left. However, this time they joined the PC caucus. Kerry Towle and Ian Donovan quit, claiming that the party was pressuring them to vote in a certain way against their interests, and that they supported Prentice and felt opposition to him was worthless.

However, it took until December for the proverbial poop to hit the fan. Rumours started flying that Wildrose and the PCs would merge, or that there would be a mass floor-crossing. On December 17th, it happened. Smith resigned as party leader, and announced that she would leave Wildrose and join the PCs. Eight other members, including the party house leader, followed her, leaving a rather sad rump of five members.

What makes the whole experience even odder (if the majority of MPs leaving an opposition party to join a government party isn't odd enough) is that Smith, as she was heading out the door, wrote a letter to the remaining caucus members asking them to seriously consider merging with the PCs. This is extraordinary; the leader of a political party with the support of 34% of the vote at an election suggesting that the party merge with a party consistently opposed by that leader.
Parties such as Wildrose are already rare in Canada, a nation with a relatively stable three-party system. The New Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives have divided up most power in Canada, and the Greens have small support bases in most provinces. One exception is New Brunswick's Confederation of Regions party, a party opposed to bilingualism and the teaching of French. That party won the position of Official Opposition in 1991, but collapsed due to infighting and won no seats in 1995.

In South Korea, a somewhat similar incident took place. The right-wing Democratic Justice Party merged with two liberal opposition parties to form the Democratic Liberal Party, a right-wing party. This is especially odd given that the two liberal opposition parties were led by figures opposed to South Korea's military dictatorship, a dictatorship supported by many Democratic Justice Party members.

I'm really not aware of any other cases where this has taken place. If anyone is aware of another case, please comment.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Japan election 2014-the day(s) after

RESULT: Liberal Democrat-New Komeito coalition returned to power, with two-thirds majority.

Original post

Well, it's all over, and the result has surprised no one. A comfortable win for Shinzo Abe, with 326 seats for his coalition in the House of Representatives. The result is a gain for the New Komeito-Liberal Democrat coalition of one on the current House and thirteen on the results of the last election.

The Liberal Democrats recorded a big increase in their vote. Under Japan's mixed-member majoritarian electoral system, they won 33.1% of the proportional representation vote and 48.1% of the single-member district vote, up from 27% and 43% in 2012. A very good performance by Abe, given that his party has been in power for a year of relative stagnation. The party did not gain seats, but the consolidation of the opposition vote meant that they did not have the split of the vote between the opposition parties that helped them in 2012.

The Democrats gained seats, in an entirely inevitable result. They won 73 seats in the 475 member House, a gain from the current House of 11 and from the last election of 16. This is a slight gain, but Democrats worried about a wipeout of their party can rest easy knowing that they appear to have a stable base of voters. The party won 18% of the proportional vote and 22.5% of the single-member district vote. The single-member district vote went down slightly from 23% in 2012, but the proportional vote went up from 15.5% in 2012. The Communist district vote went up, so perhaps leftist Democrats switched their district votes in safe Liberal Democrat seats.

The Innovation Party did well. They won 41 seats, down one from the previous House. They won about 15.7% of the proportional vote and 8% of the single-member district vote. Some of this support probably came from Your Party, which was disbanded before the election. Innovation and the right-wing of Your have some common positions, and Innovation appears to have got the majority of the vote from the 2012 Restoration vote.

New Komeito did well. I had expected them to lose seats as a backlash against militarist initiatives by the Abe government, but they gained 4 seats, and their vote went up slightly. They won all of the single-member seats that they contested off 1.5% of the single-member district vote, thanks to a non-competition agreement with the Liberal Democrats.

The Communists had a good night. They won 21 seats, a gain of 13 from 2012. Attempts by the party to moderate its political stances and to shift away from doctrinaire Marxism appear to be working, and they managed to win a single-member seat for the first time since the introduction of the mixed-member majoritarian system in 1993. The party won 13% of the single-member district vote and 11.4% of the proportional vote.

The Party for Future Generations did very poorly. The party attempted to trade off the personal popularity of 'spiritual leader' Shinataro Ishihara, but it flopped. They were unable to differentiate themselves from the much more popular Innovation Party, and lost most of their vote to them. They won 2 seats, 1.8% of the single member vote, and 2.65% of the proportional vote.

The minor Social Democrats did poorly, winning 2 seats. However, with their 3 upper house members, they have exactly enough members to form a parliamentary party, giving them funding and status in the Japanese Parliament.

Last, and almost certainly least, is Ichiro Ozawa's People's Life Party. This party, set up by former Democrat (and Liberal Democrat, and Liberal, and Japan New Party member, and New Frontier leader) was formed after poor results for the Tomorrow Party in the 2012 election. Ozawa was a key member of Tomorrow, and it has been speculated that his multiple scandals contributed to the downfall of the anti-nuclear Tomorrow Party. A lack of interest in the main issue for People's Life (nuclear power) and Ozawa's poor reputation meant that People's Life won 2 seats.

So, where is Japan's political system headed? Well, the Democrats are unlikely to return to government any time soon, but the Democrats are unlikely to disappear, and they are going to be the main opposition to the Liberal Democrats. The Communists will be a problem for the Democrats, as they are required by party rules to contest every single-member constituency, which will split the left-wing vote. Unless something astonishing happens, the Liberal Democrats will rule Japan for a long time to come.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sweden 2015-The end of the two-coalition system as we know it (for now)

Sweden's 2014 election was covered before on this blog, but another one is taking place at the initiative of the Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven. Lofven, a Social Democrat who formed a minority government after the 2014 election, has called an election for the 22nd of March in 2015.

The 2014 election resulted in a 'victory' for the Social Democrats, at least in the sense of being the largest party. However, the Social Democrats won only 31% of the vote and 113 seats in the 349 member Riksdag (Swedish parliament). Exempting 2010, this is the worst result for the Social Democrats since 1914.

The main opposition Moderate Party, who governed from 2006 to 2014 in alliance with the centre-right Christian Democrat, Centre and Liberal parties, did poorly in the 2014 election. They won 23.3% of the vote and 84 seats. The result is the worst since 2002; the Swedish centre-right is more diverse than the left, and votes transfer between the four right-leaning parties more fluidly.

So, why all these bad results for the two largest parties in Sweden? Well, as explained in the previous post, the reason is all to do with the rise of the far-right Sweden Democrats. The party, traditionally marginalised in Sweden's political environment, entered the Riksdag with 5.7% of the vote in the 2010 election and won 20 seats.

The party's policies, attacking immigrants and the European Union while strongly supporting welfare programs were unattractive in the boom times of the 2000s, and irrelevant in the long period of Social Democrat government before Europe and immigration became problems.

However, the Global Financial Crisis gave new life to far-right and far-left movements across Europe. Established parties like the Irish Fianna Fail party and the Dutch Christian Democratic Appeal were decimated, and government formation was complicated in countries that needed stability.

In 2010, the Sweden Democrats had no impact on government formation. A poor performance by the Social Democrats allowed the Moderate-led government to win a minority government, which was able to keep the government in office for the full term.

However, the 2014 results were inconclusive. The left (Social Democrats, Greens, Left Party) won 159 seats, the centre-right won 141 seats, and the remaining 49 seats went to the Sweden Democrats. Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven nonetheless became Prime Minister in a coalition with the Green Party.

To some extent, the coalition was doomed the moment it was formed. While Social Democrat-Greens  relations were cordial, the coalition simply did not have the votes. 138 votes, just 40% of the Riksdag, is simply not enough for a government.

Lofven's budget was defeated on the third of December with 182 votes against and 153 votes for and the Sweden Democrats and all centre-right parties voting against. After this defeat, it was blatantly obvious that the government could not continue. Lofven called a press conference, and announced that an election would take place on the 22nd of March.

Why an election?

The question is an obvious one. The Sweden Democrats are polling well, with about 14% on average. Another election would only slightly worsen the position of all moderate political parties at the expense of the Sweden Democrats. 

Well, there may be a personal motive for Lofven. A big Sweden Democrat presence, and complete ungovernability for either coalition could give reason for a 'grand coalition', obviously led by the Social Democrats. A government comprised of the Moderate and Social Democrat parties, with another small party (perhaps the Liberals) supporting them would have 216 seats, and would be more stable, at least in terms of a parliamentary majority.

Also, it is important to remember that Lofven, at the moment, has no choice. An inability to pass a budget, and the intransigence of the centre-right means that he is unable to control the current parliament. An election is the only way out, and the possibility of a grand coalition is too slim in the current parliament to delay such an election.

The end of the two-coalition system

For the last 8 years, Swedish elections have been contested between two vague coalitions. The centre-right coalition, called the Alliance for Sweden, is comprised of the Liberal Party (liberalism, pro-Europe), the Moderate Party (conservative), the Christian Democrats (social conservatism), and the Centre Party (liberalism, agrarianism). The centre-left coalition, formerly known as the Red-Greens, is comprised of the Social Democrats (centre-left, social democratic), the Green Party (left-wing, green politics), and the Left Party (post-communist, radical leftist). 

However, this comfortable two-party style competition has ended abruptly with the rise of the Sweden Democrats. This is similar to Italy, where the rise of the 5 Star Movement has meant that neither the left nor the right is able to hold a majority. 

What does this mean? Well, it means that, at least for now, coalitions that bridge the divide between the left and the right will be the norm.

Austria is in a similar situation. The Social Democrats and People's Party are currently in a grand coalition, after neither party were able to form government due to the presence of the far-right liberal Freedom Party. This coalition has reduced the support of both parties at the expense of the Freedom Party and other right-wing populist parties.

A grand coalition will be bad for all parties in it, as the Austrian and German examples have shown. However, it will be necessary to have one, to ensure that Sweden has stable government and fewer snap elections.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Update Japan election 2014-The end of Your Party

Japan's snap election, which will take place in about 10 days, has already caused the premature end of one political party. Your Party, a right-wing libertarian party once considered to be a possible third force in Japanese politics, was dissolved by a vote of the party caucus on November 19.

The party had been in disarray ever since half the caucus left to form the (you can't make this up) Unity Party. This party decided to merge into the Japan Innovation Party, itself a split from the nationalist Restoration Party. 

This month's NHK poll showed Your Party with 0% support. Given that 40% were supporters of 'no party', it seems unlikely that there is actually no support for Your Party, but given that they were at 3.7% after the 2012 election, it does show how poorly the party is regarded in the eyes of the public.

0% support rates in the NHK poll for certain parties are not an unusual phenomenon in Japan. The Green Wind party (sounds better in Japanese) managed a top percentage of 0.1% and 5 out of 7 polls in which the party were polled gave them 0%, while the New Renaissance Party managed to get 0% in all 7 polls in which they were included. The same poll had Ichiro Ozawa's People's Life Party on 0% and the Party for Future Generations (the Restoration members who didn't leave) on 0.2%.

This election is not a referendum on Abenomics!

The most common narrative about this election in the media is that it is a referendum on Shinzo Abe's economic plan. This is not acccurate. In a hypothetical referendum on Abenomics, there would be two options: yes or no.

In this election, the Liberal Democrats are the yes option. There is, however, no coherent no option. There are many parties that claim to provide an alternative to Abenomics. While the Democrats are obviously the largest alternative, the Communists (the biggest issue for the Democrats) and the Japan Innovation Party are the other two parties likely to make an impact.

The Liberal Democrats will be able to exploit this division. The Communist Party is bound by their constitution to run a candidate in each single-member district, which will split the anti-Abenomics vote. The Innovation Party do have the option of tactical nomination, but they will be unlikely to want to support a Democrat government. 

The small parties, like People's Life and Future Generations, will have no constructive role in this election other than one that distracts from the campaign of the large alternatives to Abenomics.

To be totally honest, there is virtually no chance of a Liberal Democrat loss. The 2012 election has shown that even a small vote for the Liberal Democrats can give them a majority. The Democrats can make some inroads into the Liberal Democrat majority, but I do not think that there will be enough for them to win.