Speculation continues to mount that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may once again dissolve the Lower House for a snap election, as early as January. After winning all national elections since 2012 by landslides for his ruling coalition, Abe might be tempted to think that another electoral gambit will further cement his grip on power and help him secure an extended tenure at the government’s helm. However, he should ponder whether yet another election is in the interests of voters — especially if it’s to be held with the disparity in the value of votes between constituencies uncorrected. He should think twice about resorting to the polls merely for his administration’s convenience and partisan interests.

Dissolving the Lower House halfway through its members’ tenure has long been considered a key prerogative of the prime minister, who can hold an election at the most favorable political tide for the ruling party to maximize its performance at the polls. The prime minister is justified in lying about plans to hold a snap election. Abe said recently he has no such plans — although he added he will make an appropriate judgment at each turn of events. Leaders of his Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition ally Komeito have urged their lawmakers to brace for an imminent election.

Abe last dissolved the Lower House for a snap election in December 2014 — just two years after the preceding campaign in 2012 — catching the splintered opposition parties off guard and returning the LDP-Komeito alliance to a two-thirds majority in the chamber. Conventional wisdom tells Lower House members to be ready for an election once their four-year tenure passes the midway point. Abe confessed prior to the Upper House election in July that he had considered dissolving the Lower House for a simultaneous election of both chambers. That plan never materialized — but speculation persisted that he would not wait too much longer.

What triggered the latest speculation was the LDP’s decision to hold its next annual party convention in March instead of January as usual. A much-talked-about scenario is for Abe to score another big win for the LDP in the January election and secure approval of a proposed change to the party’s rule on its president’s terms — so that he can run for another three-year term when his current one ends in 2018 — at the party convention. An extended tenure as LDP chief — and most likely as prime minister — would give Abe more time to realize his bid to amend the Constitution while he’s in office, and enable him to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. If an election is to be held in the coming months, one at the beginning of next year also makes sense for Komeito, which is opposed to holding a general election too close to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly race next summer.

The LDP-Komeito alliance, of course, can see their two-thirds majority grip on the Lower House being pared in a snap election. But Abe apparently has reasons to believe that the election should be held sooner rather than later. His administration continues to enjoy a surprisingly strong popular support in its fourth year as the opposition remains weak. Even after choosing popular lawmaker Renho as its new leader in September, support for the largest opposition force, the Democratic Party, remains low at less than a quarter of the popular support that Abe’s LDP scores in media polls. A joint election campaign by the DP and other opposition parties successfully dented the LDP-Komeito’s sweep of crucial constituencies in the July Upper House race, but it’s not clear if they would be able to replicate that campaign cooperation in a Lower House election in a few months. The outcome of two Lower House by-elections on Sunday — in Tokyo and Fukuoka — may help guide Abe’s decision by serving as an indicator of voter sentiment.

What would be Abe’s cause for holding an election in January — or on what issue would he ask voters for a fresh mandate? In 2014, Abe said he was asking for voters’ endorsement of his decision to postpone the consumption tax hike to 10 percent. The rumored scenario this time is for him to achieve some progress in the territorial dispute with Russia during his talks in Japan with President Vladimir Putin in December — and present the possible deal before the electorate for its endorsement.

A deal with Russia during Putin’s visit is not guaranteed, nor is the performance of the ruling coalition at the polls. What is certain, however, is that an election in January would be held without correcting the disparity in value of votes between the Lower House constituencies that the Supreme Court has ruled to be in a “state of unconstitutionality.”

A revision to the Public Offices Election Law enacted in May to narrow the maximum gap in the value of votes between populous and less-populous constituencies calls for reducing Lower House seats by 10 — including six allocated to single-seat constituencies in less populous prefectures. The revision is applicable only after a government council comes up with new demarcation of electoral districts to reflect the changes — scheduled by next May — and it is publicized. But if the Lower House is dissolved before that takes place, the election will be held under the same electoral districts as in the 2014 race.

That would save the LDP from the trouble of adjusting its candidates in the affected constituencies — which portends to be a headache for the party that would involve shuffling incumbent lawmakers across districts. It may give the Abe administration all the more reason to hold the election soon. But that means voters would be denied at least a partial correction in the steep disparity of their vote values — a problem that runs counter to equality under the Constitution and distorts the representation of popular will in the Diet. Members of the administration say the pending electoral reform does not bind the prime minister’s hand in dissolving the Lower House. But it’s doubtful whether Abe has compelling grounds to seek yet another voter mandate even by bypassing the problem.

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