House of Councillors member for the Democratic Party Ōe Yasuhiro is a piece of work.
Courtesy: Asahi Shimbun
This image, of him greeting Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Ibuki Bunmei at the special congress of local and Diet politicians in favor of extending the temporary gasoline tax, graced the front page of the Asahi Shimbun this morning. It was a smack in the face of the DPJ leadership, which is fighting the renewal of the tax. The handshake and Ōe's later remarks to the press have opened the door for other DPJ members, particularly those holding shaky seats in rural areas, to break with the party leadership and side with the road construction lobby.
Ōe's incipient betrayal is not just opportunistic: it is part of a pattern. He abstained on the House of Councillors vote on the government refueling mission bill, instead of siding with his party in rejecting the bill.
Now the DPJ lacks a 51% majority in the House of Councillors and so is unlikely to expel any upper house legislator from the party--but Ōe is an especially enervating case. He is a proportional seat holder. The seat does not belong to him--it belongs to the party. Furthermore, he was reelected last July. Does he expect the party leadership to just look the other way for six years?
What happens when an at-large proportional seat holder ceases to follow party discipline? Can the party expel him and repossess the seat? Is it Ōe's private possession now?
Oh, oh, my brain hurts...