Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quick Note: Is It the LDP Who Cannot Afford an Alliance with Komeito?

I’ve speculated before that Komeito might be better off without the LDP as its main squeeze—policy-wise, the DPJ would be a more natural ally—and the Komeito leadership has been doing nothing to dampen such speculation. Increasingly evident Komeito antsyness suggests that it’s time to ask, Can the LDP afford an alliance with Komeito?

The DPJ may be Komeito’s more natural ally, but as Ozawa’s aborted efforts at a Grand Coalition in 2007 show, the DPJ is also the LDP’s more natural ally. In fact, a permanent alliance with ideologically narrower—and perforce smaller—parties is inherently confining in that it requires perpetual accommodation of such coalition parties’ defining positions. Thus there is something to be said for the discretion to fight an election on its own undiluted platform, leaving the compromises for later maneuvering.

But what about the Komeito tithe? True, 10 percentage points represent a lot of votes. But it wasn’t that long ago that the bedrock support for the LDP was, say, 10 percentage points higher than the same for the DPJ. And media polls suggest that 1/3 of the voters are floaters. Keeping Komeito in the fold is likely to call for a lot of concessions, new and old, concessions that the LDP cannot afford too many of if it is to position itself opportunistically against the DPJ while lying in wait for the accumulation of a host of DPJ gaffes and errors, the kind of gaffes and errors that, over a period of 3 years and Prime Ministers, consigned the LDP to a severely truncated opposition bench. The odds might be better for the LDP if it went off on its own for the time being, honing its own message; the better to attract the floater vote, which will be looking for the next political black, ready to abandon the DPJ, the same way that it jilted its long time flame, the LDP.

I’m not ready to hazard a guess one way or the other, but it’s at least useful to remember that the coalition entailed costs for the LDP as well.

I’m seriously behind on counter-comments. Sorry, later. Things happening.


Mark said...

Could you fill us in on the things that are happening? Please... Please... Please...

Jun Okumura said...

Mark: In the meantime, at least one new (as opposed to New) Komeito leader has called for a reexamination of the coalition, and I’ve read reports of Komeito talk on the pros and cons of turning into a pure PR bloc party. Ill do my best to stay abreast of things, but my life has become crowded all of a sudden.