One-sixth vote threshold looms

Crowded race raises the risk of re-balloting

Kyodo

Some of the victors in the Dec. 16 general election may face re-votes because a glut of candidates has raised the possibility that no one will attain the legal threshold of one-sixth of the ballots to officially win.

Although this rarely happens, the large number of parties in this year’s contest has increased the chances of a re-vote happening in single-seat constituencies.

“It is theoretically possible that no candidate will earn one-sixth of the vote” if there are more than seven candidates running for a single-seat constituency, an official at the internal affairs ministry said.

The Public Offices Election Act stipulates that if no candidate gains one-sixth of the eligible votes in a single-seat district, the election must be held again.

On Tuesday, when official campaigning for the Lower House election kicked off, a record 1,504 people filed to run for 300 single-seat districts and 180 proportional representation seats.

Thanks to the emergence of several “third force” groups, 12 parties are fielding candidates in the Lower House election this year, the most since the present electoral system began in 1996.

In the Tokyo No. 1 constituency, a record nine people have filed to be candidates, according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

Eight are running for Kyoto No. 4 and seven for Tokyo Nos. 5 and 14, as well as Chiba constituencies 5 and 7, the ministry said.

If there is a re-vote, there may be case where a single-seat candidate doubling down in the proportional representation section gains a proportional representation seat even though no one won a seat in the electoral district.

In most cases, the vying parties are the Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party, Nippon Mirai no To (Tomorrow Party of Japan), Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), the Japanese Communist Party and Your Party.

The exception is Chiba No. 7, where the Social Democratic Party is fielding a candidate.

The last time a re-vote was held was in the Sapporo mayoral contest in 2003, when none of the candidates won the minimum amount of votes.

It was the first time a second round of voting had been held in a mayoral election in a major city since 1952, when the election law was revised to require that candidates acquire 25 percent of the valid ballots to win a gubernatorial or mayoral race.

There never has been a re-vote for a single-seat constituency in the House of Representatives.