Yomiuri has published its latest tracking poll and found that just over a month into the Aso cabinet the prime minister’s unfavorable rating has surpassed his favorable rating. His disapproval rating rose 3.3% to 41.9%, edging past his approval rating, which fell 5.4% to 40.5%.
A majority of respondents (56%) said they approved of the prime minister’s decision to put government’s response to the financial crisis, but when it comes to the government’s response to the crisis, respondents are evenly divided, with 42% supporting the government’s response and 46% opposing. The numbers are even less favorable to Mr. Aso’s suggestion that the government could raise the consumption tax rate in three years (51% opposed to 42% favorable).
Yomiuri is not alone in recording doubt about the government’s economic plans.
Nakagawa Hidenao — who has now made his displeasure with the Aso cabinet public, complaining in a speech in Fukushima of Mr. Aso’s decision to postpone an election and begin speaking of a consumption tax — looks at Hodo 2001‘s 30 October poll and find that while the government’s approval rating rose 4.8% to 46% (with the disapproval rating holding steady at 45.4%), there is widespread doubt about the ability of the government’s economic plans to stave off a deeper recession. Asked whether the government’s intended plans will restore growth, 21.2% of respondents said yes, while 67.6% of respondents said no. What continues to alarm Mr. Nakagawa is that independents remain ill disposes to the Aso government and its plans.
The Aso government is still pushing on a string. It’s going to take more than Mr. Aso talking about the government’s “concrete plans” for restoring growth in a TV commercial to reverse the tide.
For now there is little for the DPJ but to sow the seeds of doubt in the public’s mind about the efficacy of Mr. Aso’s plans for the economy. It shouldn’t go too far out on a limb to oppose them in the Diet — the public wants some response from the government — but it should be sure to raise lots of questions. It needs to undermine the government’s case without being perceived as obstructionist.
Can Mr. Ozawa’s party do it? I worry about the DPJ in moments like this, the moment after the government decides to postpone an election following a campaign by the DPJ to pressure the government to call a snap election. Mr. Ozawa has a tendency to let his focus slip. The DPJ must not panic. It must not try to force a showdown. Let Mr. Aso continue to push on the string.
In the meantime, keep making the case that the DPJ is more in touch with the public.