Saturday, August 18, 2012

Is There a Chance of Party Breakup in the Near Future?

More defectors here and there, sure; but wholesale DPJ and/or LDP breakup around the looming lower house election? I’m not ready to say that it can’t happen before the election when everyone is worried about his/her reelection. But where would they go? Your Party and Hashimoto’s prospective Ishin-no-Kai will be inhospitable for anti-TPP figures, the most likely next batch of defectors. Ozawa’s People’s Life First will let you vote as you see fit, but joining that franchise comes with a serious reputation risk, particularly in a late-in-the-game, desperation flight. Can you take the local party machines with them, much less the party money? And if you decide to go solo, who will be there to sustain you through to the next nationwide election at if you bail out and lose anyway? These are questions that must come to mind as fence-sitters ponder their next move.

What about after the election? Let’s say that you’re on the losing team. At least you’ve made it back under dire straits. Do you want to be a turncoat living among your former enemies in exchange for a one-, two-year hold on a subcabinet post, or would you prefer to stay with your allies and plot your party’s return to power? Remember, also, that an administration that does not have support from an upper house majority or a lower house supermajority is likely to face debilitating attacks from the opposition. This means that the administration is likely to need a large number of members from both the DPJ and LDP as currently configured. So the mostly like post-election configuration remains for me the DPJ-LDP-Komeito coalition.

It is possible that hammering out a common policy position will cause some Diet members to drop out and join the opposition. But most of the recalcitrant DPJ parliamentarians will have already been weeded out, while LDP malcontents will have had their dissatisfaction tempered by their three years in the wilderness. So post-election defections, if any, should be on the fringes.

All this not bode well for governance on critical issues beginning with social safety net reform, TPP, and long-term energy policy...which should suit the folks at Ishin-no-Kai just fine.

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