In 2001, hopeless underdog Junichiro Koizumi swept 123 of the 141 Prefectural chapter electoral votes with less than 60% of the popular vote. (42 of the 45 chapters that decided to hold party members votes had opted for winner-take-all). This put enormous pressure on the Diet members to fall in line, and Mr. Koizumi was elected LDP President. The rest, as they say, is history.
To make sure history would not repeat itself, the LDP changed its election rules. While making party member votes mandatory, it made the D'Hondt method, a variation of proportional representation, mandatory. Moreover, it made sure that the popular vote would not unduly influence the Diet members by stipulating that the results would be disclosed simultaneously with the Diet member voting. However, emergency situations such as the current election were not covered by the new rules. In fact, technically, anything goes, and it is this loophole that the Aso campaign placed its hopes on, as is discussed here, in my original post as well as the comments. Today's Yomiuri gives more detailed information on the matter, though not as much as the hard copy version. Here are the salient points:
Of the 47 chapters, 35 will hold popular votes by all party members. Of the rest, six will hold votes by a limited number of local leaders and delegates (between 80 and 851; the size of the chapters vary, so the individual numbers do not necessarily indicate the levels of representation), two are undecided, two have already chosen their favorite son candidate (Gunma, Yasuo Fukuda; Fukuoka, Taro Aso, but more on that later), one leaves it to the discretion of the local party leadership, and one will make its decision in a way that, with the very limited information available in the Yomiuri article, I can only call osmosis.
The top-down Fukuoka decision to give it up for Mr. Aso does not please some people there. In fact, six of the 12 Diet members there have lodged a formal protest with the chapter chairman, a Prefectural assemblyman, so far to no avail. Two of the Fukuoka Six happen to be Taku Yamazaki and Makoto Koga. Both are faction leaders in their own right, and, of course, Fukuda supporters.
Of the 35 chapters that have opted for universal suffrage, as it were, only ten have chosen winner-take-all, while two others have yet to decide. So, at most, 12 out of the 35 will chose winner-take-all, which favors Mr. Aso, the underdog and therefore risk-loving candidate. Of the seven Kanto area Prefectures, to which I now assume that Nobuteru Ishihara was referring on Sunday Project, five have indeed opted for winner-take-all. The other two are Mr. Fukuda's Gunma Prefecture and Ibaragi Prefecture, the latter having left it to the discretion of the local party leadership.
There is a genuine possibility that the results of the popular vote will influence the decisions of the Diet members. In fact, in a bizzarre twist, the six Diet members from Kanagawa Prefecture have gone overboard by pledging their own electoral votes to the eventual winner of the local votes, making the Kanagawa vote a nine electoral vote winner-take-all event.
More generally, to prevent such undue influence, LDP headquarters had implored the local chapters to withhold disclosure of their choices until the Diet members' vote, on the 23. However, only 11 agreed to do so (of which Kanagawa's disclosure is moot because its six Diet members have already pledged their own votes to the winner). 29 will announce their decisions on the 22nd - the day before the election, two on the 21st, one on the 19th, and two on a date to be determined. Gunma and Fukuoka have already made their decisions.
So there is a real chance that pre-release of the Prefectural results can influence the ultimate outcome. But because of the widespread adoption of proportional representation, it will take Mr. Aso an overwhelming victory in the Prefectural vote and defection of enormous proportions from the ranks of Diet member Fukuda supporters to pull it off.
Thus, the details that I provide here in no way make me alter my conclusions of yesterday. However, I thought the making-it-up-as-you-go-along feel of the process has its own charms, the political game in the purest of meanings. So I thought that I should provide a little explanation for the benefit of those of you who cannot read Japanese but enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
And the answer to your question, Anonymous is, yes, I do need a life. But boys will be boys.
Now, back to work.