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Ruling, opposition sides target vote disparities

Kyodo

Executives of the ruling and opposition parties will meet Wednesday to discuss how to rectify disparities in the weight of votes, following recent court rulings that said some results in December’s Lower House election were unconstitutional or invalid, a senior ruling party lawmaker said Sunday.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito, will call for the opposition camp’s support for a bill to cut the number of single-seat constituencies to 295 from 300 in the House of Representatives during the meeting of party secretaries general, the lawmaker said.

However, the main opposition force, the Democratic Party of Japan, has objected to the ruling parties’ plan to reform the electoral system, describing it as “insufficient.”

During the meeting Wednesday, the DPJ is likely to instead seek other parties’ support for its own electoral reform plan that would cut 30 single-seat constituencies and 50 proportional representation seats of the 480 seats in the more powerful lower chamber.

The ruling coalition, which together controls more than two-thirds of the seats in the Lower House, will seek to pass the bill to trim the number of single-seat districts by five even if it is rejected by the opposition-controlled House of Councilors.

The LDP and New Komeito plan to first enact the legislation to reduce the number of single-seat constituencies by five in around mid-May and then seek to slash the proportional representation seats to 150 from 180, preferentially allocating 60 of the 150 to smaller parties.

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

Following the December general election, in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s LDP won by a landslide and returned to power, more than 10 lawsuits were filed by lawyers arguing that significant disparities in the weight of votes remained despite the top court’s ruling.

A series of high court rulings issued last week found that some results in the general election were either unconstitutional or “in a state of unconstitutionality.”