Monday, September 22, 2008

And Now the Struggle Begins

Asō Tarō wins the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party and hence the premiership in a crushing fashion.

The Koizumi crypto-faction, pressed to the wall by multiple reversal in the course and popularity of reform, can only muster 46 Diet member votes for their stalking horse, Koike Yuriko. Koike fails to win even a single vote from the local party chapter representative elections.

Ozawa Ichirō is reelected without opposition on Sunday.

Asō Tarō's Quintilemma:

1) In all the polls of "Who is the most appropriate person to be Prime Minister at this time?" he obliterates Ozawa.

2) The last two prime ministers have seen their popularity ratings decay rapidly over their first several months in office. Asō will receive something of a honeymoon level of popularity from the public. He cannot hope to avoid serious deterioration as the battles with the Democratic Party of Japan mount.

3) The LDP's coalition partner the New Kōmeitō is demanding an election by the end of the year.

4) Despite their measily showing in the LDP presidential election, the Koizumi loyalists still have one more card to play: their district seat holders can jump ship from the LDP. If they should do so, the coalition would lose its two-thirds majority, making any delay in holding an election pointless.

5) For two years now, when asked their preference, voters have consistently voiced a preference for a "DPJ-led coalition government" or an "outright DPJ government" rather than their LDP equivalents.

You tell me what Asō is going to do.


Anonymous said...

[i]You tell me what Asō is going to do.[/i]

Read manga(s).Try to do something in politics during 3 months but fail everywhere due to splintered party. Call an election. Loose somehow, but not by that much.

Start new party ? We can't have a coalition between DPJ/Ozawa and LDP, can we ?

Jan Moren said...

Call an election the fastest possible way he can. His ratings are only going to fall further the more he delays, and once an election is called there's a number of convenient election rules limiting the ability of the opposition to take their grievances to the public (as I heard it, candidates aren't even allowed to change their websites once campaigning starts, or engage in unauthorized debates). So focus will be on the election and its personalities, not on long-term issues.

Anonymous said...

I agree that holding an election as fast as possible would be the logical strategy. Given the "decay rate" of popularity of the last couple of Prime Ministers, it would make sense to get the election done ASAP and let the decay happen AFTER the election has been won. As Janne Moren points out, the election rules heavily favor the encumbant (Gee, who would have guessed).

If Aso can win a general election, then he could, at least in theory, hold on to power for years.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, an additional thought. Traditionally, Japanese PMs are very "non-memorable". How many folks can name the past 20 Prime Ministers? I think that Aso may want very much to have a memorable legacy of some form, be it like Koizumi, Nakasone or even Tanaka. Obviously, this can cut both ways (good and bad) but if this thought is correct, then he might try to do something "outside the box" to make himself memorable.

I keep thinking that his stint as foreign minister might tilt him somewhat toward a reasonable internationalist bent but but guarantees.