Former Japanese PM recalls electoral reform


Naoto Kan was Prime Minister of Japan from June 2010 to September 2011. Though his time in the top job was just over a year, he has spent much of his adult life in the political arena, both in government, and as an activist.

In a recent interview with the Japan Times, the former PM reflects on his long career, including his anti-nuclear stance, and the way the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown was handled. But readers of this blog will likely be most interested to learn of his recollections of his years as an electoral reformer.

Japan’s electoral system is not the same as Canada’s (the article explains key aspects of the system.) In 1993, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had been in power for several decades, and Naoto Kan was an elected member of an opposition party, the Socialist Democratic Federation. When members of the LDP left to join opposition members in forming a coalition, they were able to implement a new system combining single member constituencies and proportional representation.

The historic change in the electoral system is something that Kan still feels proud of, even though the coalition was short lived.

That puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? When speaking with friends about the desire for proportional representation in Canada, often someone will chime in to say they agree in principle, but “it will never happen.” But in politics, nothing is completely predictable. For activists who hoped to reform the electoral system in Japan, there must have been quite a few “it will never happen” conversations along the way. But the coalition formed in 1993 made it possible. 

Do you think Canada could ever see an unlikely alliance of MPs joining forces in the name of voting reform? Under what type of scenario might that be a possibility?


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commented 2013-12-21 19:04:19 -0500 · Flag
Thank you