While there is much talk of the Liberal Democratic Party winning the next election and Abe Shinzo becoming the next prime minister, one should be keep in mind what "winning" will likely mean. If the "Third Pole" parties agree on a significant degree of coordination -- and a sufficient number of voters turn up at the polls (and that is a big "If") -- the results on election day will have the LDP and its ally the New Komeito winning under 50% of the seats in the House of Representatives. In order for Abe to win election to the premiership, and for the government to have a working majority in the House of Representatives, he and his party will have to form a coalition with either the rump Democratic Party of Japan, led by....someone not named Noda Yoshihiko, or the Third Pole forces not being led by Hashimoto Toru, who, while being the Third Pole's most legitimate and charismatic leader, has declared he is not leaving the Osaka City mayor's office. Since this election is ostensibly a referendum on three years of DPJ rule, the LDP and Abe could not endure the public and party faithful scorn at an alliance with the DPJ. Abe would begin his premiership under a cloud and low popularity ratings, with nowhere to go but down.
The basic working assumption then is that an LDP-New Komeito-Third Pole coalition will be in nominal charge of the country as of December 17 -- nominal because the negotiations on a common policy program are likely to be protracted. A person wishing to offer a guess as to the plan of action for the next government would be advised to find the points of commonality in between the policy platforms of the LDP, the Your Party and the Japan Restoration Association, with the LDP defering to its coalition partners in three key areas: subsidies, trade liberalization and the reduction of bureaucratic control over policy.
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