Corey Wallace has written a dense and comprehensive post on the Liberal Democratic Party presidential election, handicapping the race and examining the ramifications of the elections of any of the main three candidates.
I would only have two caveats to what Mr. Wallace writes:
- I think he goes way too far in downgrading the abilities of Ishihara Nobuteru.
Ishihara has had to fight a battle with both hands tied behind his back, having to serve as the loyal lieutenant to Tanigaki Sadakazu, the least capable leader the LDP has ever had (Ed: worse than Mori Yoshiro? Wow!). So perversely attached are the members of the LDP to service to one's superior that voices in the LDP have been calling Ishihara the Akechi Mitsuhide of the Heisei Era. (Ed: Tanigaki Sadakazu is the current LDP's Oda Nobunaga? Double wow!!)
Speaking of wild tales of betrayal, not only has former prime minister Aso Taro -- the only serving LDP secretary-general to succeed a living party president since Takeshita Noboru took over in consensus-based transition in 1987 -- been the most vocal of Ishihara's attempt to make the same move, he is also campaigning on the behalf of Abe Shinzo, the man whom he drove over the edge over the course of August 2007.
Abe must really have no memory of his last weeks in office.
- There is no chance for an LDP-Democratic Party of Japan coalition for at least a calendar year after the next House of Representatives election.
The DPJ has had it with the LDP. The LDP's inability to comprehend even the most basic aspects of being the loyal opposition over the last three years has the DPJ in a "Don't call us; we won't call you" mode.
The DPJ also has the benefit of knowing what being a junior coalition partner to the LDP has meant for the party cutting the deal on forming a government. It has not been a pretty last 20 years for those who have joined hands with the LDP.
Furthermore, the DPJ has a perfectly reasonable response to LDP entreaties and Yomiuri Shimbun browbeating into joining the LDP in a coalition:
"We have had an election and the voter have delivered their verdict. They have found us wanting. We have been relegated to and deserve to be in the opposition."
Privately, DPJ members can tell their LDP counterparts, "Your automatic nay-saying to everything we did and incessant calls for an election fueled voter dissatisfaction with both our parties and energized the regional parties, particularly the Osaka Ishin no Kai. You indeed sponsored Hashimoto Toru in his run for governor of Osaka Prefecture. He is your baby -- you form your government with him."
All this, of course, will be moot if Noda Yoshihiko pulls a rabbit out of a hat over the next few months and leads the DPJ to the position #1 party in the House of Representatives following an election. Currently such an outcome seems farfetched. However, we have months ahead of us before this blessed land can hold an election that is not constitutionally suspect. That is a lot of time.
Noda will win the DPJ leadership election taking place today. He has locked down the votes of 220 of the DPJ's 336 Diet members. While this represents only 440 of the 617 points he needs to win reelection in the first round, it is an automatic win in a second round of voting, in which only the members of the Diet are voters.