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More courts uphold vote-value challenge but won’t nix election results

Kyodo

The Kanazawa Branch of the Nagoya High Court ruled Monday that last December’s general election was unconstitutional due to a large disparity in the weight of votes, while the Fukuoka High Court said it was close to an unconstitutional state.

The courts, however, turned down the plaintiffs’ demand to nullify electoral results in one constituency in Fukui Prefecture and two constituencies in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Earlier this month, four other high courts found the disparities in the value of votes of up to 2.43 times at the last general election either unconstitutional or close to a state of unconstitutionality. But they all dismissed the plaintiffs’ demands that the election outcomes be nullified.

The number of voters in the Fukui constituency was about 1.04 times as large as in the least populous electoral zone, in Kochi Prefecture, while the figures for the two constituencies in Fukuoka were about 1.95 and 2.18, respectively.

After the Lower House election, two groups of lawyers filed 14 lawsuits with the eight high courts and six of their branches, arguing the election should be invalidated due to the large vote-value gap.

The Supreme Court ruled in March 2011 that a disparity of up to 2.3 times in the weight of votes in the 2009 election was “close to a state of unconstitutionality.”

The Diet enacted a bill last November to reduce the disparity by cutting the number of single-seat constituencies to 295 from 300, but the December election was conducted with the same zoning of districts as there was not enough time to make the changes.