Monday, August 31, 2009

Opposition landslide in Japan will jangle nerves of incumbent Asian governments

When I picked up my copy of Singapore's Straits Times this morning, I was shocked to see on the front page the following pull-out quote under the title "Time for change":

"It's too long for a single party to dominate national politics."

The story went on to describe a country with a rapidly-ageing population and low birth rate that has been hit hard by the global economic crisis.

The article gave details of a "historic win" which has "rang down the curtain on over 50 years of almost uninterrupted rule" by the governing party.

The government was apparently defeated by a relatively inexperienced opposition because voters were "weary of a government whose pro-business policies had widened the income gap in recent years".

The opposition campaigned on a reform platform that "promised to end wasteful government spending, remove cushy jobs for retired bureaucrats and provide more money for childcare and education".

I was extremely surprised to read such sentiments in the Straits Times, until I realised that they were of course talking about Japan.

On a serious note, though, unlike the turbulence that followed the 1997 financial crisis, there have been very few political repercussions in Asia so far this time.

Up until the drubbing dealt out to the LDP in Japan, most incumbent Asian governments probably felt that, with no major banking crises in the region, they would not face the voters' wrath at the ballot box.

Now, other long-time governing parties in Asia (not least in Singapore and Malaysia), will surely be sitting up and taking notice.

No comments:

Post a Comment