Sunday, June 24, 2007

The LDP Under Abe Shinzō: We are the Bourbons

"Since we have the pensions mess and all, delaying the vote by even a single day is to our advantage."

This quote, attributed to a member of the LDP elections executive committee in an article printed in the June 22, 2007 morning edition of the Mainichi Shimbun, indicates in that in just 9 months the LDP has managed to remember everything it once was and unlearn everything Koizumi Jun'ichiro taught it.

It is all back:

The fear of facing the electorate.

The petulant whining about having to submit themselves to a vote.

The contempt for the issues that matter to the people.

The belief that elections are won or lost based on the actual date of election ("In the last week of August the weather will be very hot, so a lot of senior citizens might collapse in the midday sun. On the other hand, a lot of younger folks will go to the beach or up into the mountains. The Komeitō people will vote no matter what the weather but if there are summer rainstorms in the Hokuriku and Shin'etsu regions, persons who would normally vote for the DPJ...")

Contrast this desire to rule without conflict or contestation with the exuberance former Prime Minister Koizumi brought to every fight. Koizumi LOVED elections. He still loves them.

A friend of mine recently asked me to look at a draft of a paper he was writing on the lessons Nicolas Sarkozy might learn from the prime ministership of Koizumi Jun'ichiro. In the paper, my friend had written, "Koizumi became a veritable machine at winning elections." I flagged that line, noting that the LDP suffered a setback in the 2004 House of Councillors election.

I realize now that my friend had been about 85% right. Koizumi may not have been a machine for winning elections—-but he was certainly a machine at CONTESTING elections. He loved standing on the sound trucks, alternately delivering the talking points and riffing on whatever the environment threw his way ("Is this on? Is this on? Can you hear me? It seems this microphone doesn't work…but I assure you my reforms will!"). With his diminutive form and his exuberance, one half expected him to dive off the edge of the platform for some crowd surfing.

He would schedule elections whenever he damned pleased...and damn the legislative calendar or the weather. The 2004 House of Councillors election: held on July 11! "But the children are still in school, their parents will still be around to vote! The weather may be hot but not ferociously so. There are no typhoons in early July! The DPJ will win."

The 2005 House of Representatives "Yūsei min'eika" election: September 11. "But nobody campaigns in August! Nobody campaigns on a single issue! The people will hate us for this! The DPJ will win."

We all know how the 2005 elections panned out

Now the DPJ did do smashingly well in the House of Councillors held on July 11 in 2004, when an unexpectedly high 56.57% of the electorate showed up...and the LDP did do smashingly well in 2001, when the election was held on July 29...and an unexpectedly high 56.44% of the voters showed up.

So, if I am to understand this correctly, LDP election officials are intent on suppressing the popular vote by 0.13%.

Indeed, they are counting on it.

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