Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Not this time

LDP Election Measures Chairman Koga Makoto is not stupid, it seems.

In the fight over which of the LDP's candidates for the Tokushima #2 district shall represent the LDP in the next House of Representatives election, he has chosen the party exile Yamaguchi Shun'ichi over the Koizumi Junichirō-appointed assassin Shichijō Akira.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that Koga came to choose Yamaguchi over Shichijō based on the results of public opinion polls and levels of support for either candidate among Tokushima party members. Of course, what the report does not say is that Yamaguchi, as the incumbent, had an edge in terms of name recognition and that the local party apparat are all his longtime cronies associates.

Given those criteria (Are they reflective of Koga's stated goal of "picking a candidate who can win"?) it is not as if the outcome was in doubt.

Shichijō's prize for his second place finish in the contest is a listing "in the upper part" of the LDP's party list for Shikoku bloc seats.

Some prize.

Unlike the resolution of the Gifu #1 dispute where Satō Yukari was able to extract a candidacy in a district seat, opening up the possibility of her defecting to the opposition, Shichijō has only received the opportunity to campaign for the party that has slighted him and whose policy direction he most likely opposes--then accept from it a seat that will always belong to the LDP, never to him.

If Shichijō spurns Koga's offer, he likely ends up with nothing. The DPJ will not take him in--he probably does not have enough of a local presence to make him a worthwhile convert...and he must stay in the LDP until the day the current Diet is dissolved.

A mean-spirited, take-it-or-leave-it-offer from Koga...which means he is finally getting serious about the party's head count in the Diet, post-election. He is also setting the pattern for the resolution of all the remaining disputed seats: the exile will be the party's nominee in the district, the assassin will stay in his/her bloc seat--if the LDP does well enough in the party line vote to win the bloc seat, that is.

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