Thursday, July 27, 2017

Speculating About The Renho Resignation

Let us keep this simple: the explanations Renho has offered for her resignation as leader of the Democratic Party make zero sense.

"The very best would be for a stronger DP that can be built by a new directorate"

NONSENSE - the DP has no obvious list of successors the current leadership group. The conservative wing, which should be the logical alternative, is depleted by defections to Koike Yuriko's Tokyoites First movement. The election of a left wing leader and the selection of a left directorate would cause the party to implode.

"I tried to think of a way of transform the centrifugal force into a centripetal force. I realized that this would not come from personnel changes but through a reexamination of myself."

NONSENSE - Please do not tell me you have been reading Wang Yangming's Instructions for Practical Living. Or any other Neo-Confucian philosophers, for that matter.

Oh, and another thing: you cannot have either a centripetal or a centrifugal force without a center. That center is/was you.

"I would like that a party be built that can respond to the insecurities the people are feeling"

NONSENSE - Where is the agent of change? Who is going to do this building of which you speak, if not you?

The real story, as outlined in this Business Journal article, is a simple matter: Renho cannot keep a fundamental campaign promise.

The Constitution allows for members of the House of Councillors to become prime minister. However, no prime minister of the postwar era has ever been elected from the upper house. This is in part due to a logjam-breaking provision of the Constitution: when the two houses of the Diet hold elections for PM and each elects a different Diet member, the choice of the House of Representatives becomes the PM.

This traditional and technical preeminence of the House of Representatives prompted Renho to promised that in the event of a general election she would resign from the House of Councillors to run for a House of Representatives seat. Not out of a technical necessity, just a political one.

Hence the emergence of a new problem: for which HoR district seat would she run? It would have to be a safe DP seat; the party would suffer a huge loss of face if the party leader were defeated in her district race. If there were not one available, a sitting DP member would have to give up his/her seat to accommodate Renho's candidacy.

Unfortunately, the current map of Tokyo's electoral districts has no open, reasonable district for a Renho run for a House of Representatives seat. Furthermore, after the loss of DP seats in the July 2 assembly elections, Renho has none of the authority necessary to tell any DP HoR Tokyo district hopeful to move aside for the good of the party.

Renho had tried horse trading for a new mantle of authority in the party. She found, however, that not even offering up the resignation of her eminense grise Noda Yoshihiko, the party secretary-general, bought her a winnable district in Tokyo.

Facing a climb down from her promise to take the fight to the LDP in the House of Representatives, Renho decided to cut her losses by folding up her tent now.

At least, that is the way it looks.


Anonymous said...

An interesting analysis.

One thing: You haven't spelt out clearly what the objection would have been to Renho standing in the Tokyo proportional block (in the lower house).

Would it have been anything more than the question of prestige?

(Apologies if this is a duplicate comment. Blogspot's comment form did not respond meaningfully the last time I tried to submit it.)

MTC said...

Anonymous -

The practice for both the DP and the LDP is to list all the district candidates in the #1 spot of the proportional list. Those who lose in their district races are taken off the proportional list in the Least Worst order -- i.e., the candidate who came closest to winning in her/his district is given the first proportional seat, the one who did second best gets the second...and so on. Being brought back to life from political death in the district races earns these Diet members the pejorative label of "zombie candidates" or "zombie seatholders."

Given the likelihood that more DP members would lose in district races than there the number of DP proportional seats won, Renho would have to be given the #1 spot on the proportional list. The double-listed the district candidates be second-class party members in the #2 position or below.

Such a DP proportional list would be a nightmare. The LDP would without mercy mock the DP and its leader for their and her lack of confidence in her ability to win a district seat. Other DP members would also be resentful of a leader who thought herself the only party member deserving of a guaranteed seat.

So while your proposal is technically possible, it is politically unfeasible.