Friday, January 04, 2008

A Few Thoughts on the Post-Lower House General Election

I just posted to the effect that the ruling coalition will win the next Lower House election, or rather, the DPJ will not win. But that does not mean that Prime Minister Fukuda will necessarily be out of the woods.

If the ruling coalition maintains a supermajority, Mr. Fukuda will have a renewed mandate. Heaven has spoken: the coalition will rightfully claim the right to exercise the override more freely, still with care, than in the upcoming regular Diet session. Moreover, even if the coalition loses the supermajority, I expect that Mr. Fukuda can stay on if he wishes as long as the LDP can maintain a symbolic one-party majority; Mr. Asō is not exactly the person you want to put forward as Prime Minister when seeking accommodation with micro-parties to exercise the override or, at worst, with the DPJ, in order to pass sorely-needed legislation. I will not guess at what may happens below that talismanic figure.

It appears that Mr. Fukuda has put a definitive lid on a Cabinet reshuffle. That means that he will keep that card to play for much later, after the Lower House election if it falls within the year. Fukushirō will not go unless the other shoe drops and he becomes yoked with Fumio Kyūma. I think that I should have given more thought to the possibility that a bored press corps travelling with Mr. Fukuda blew it up out of proportions.

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