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Japanese Prime Minister Suga Has No Clear Successor

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24.09.2021

For the second time in as many years, on Sept. 29 Japan’s long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will hold an open election to choose a party president—and thus, thanks to the LDP’s healthy parliamentary majority, the next prime minister.

Unlike last year, however, when party elders united quickly behind current premier Yoshihide Suga, who promised continuity and competence after the sudden resignation of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, this year’s race is truly open. Although the LDP is a conservative party, its long-time dominance has rested in part on its tolerance for competing visions, and this year the field is crowded with four candidates representing the LDP’s many tendencies and factions. All are vying for the opportunity to put their stamp on the party as it prepares to face the electorate in a general election that must be held no later than Nov. 28.

As a result, the outcome is unusually difficult to predict—in large part because of the rules that the LDP uses to choose its leaders. In the initial round of voting, the LDP’s 382 lawmakers from the two houses of the Diet will each cast a vote. The party’s dues-paying members also get some say in the process: An estimated 1.1 million party supporters will be entitled to cast a ballot, which will determine how another 382 votes are split proportionally among the candidates.

For the second time in as many years, on Sept. 29 Japan’s long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will hold an open election to choose a party president—and thus, thanks to the LDP’s healthy parliamentary majority, the next prime minister.

Unlike last year, however, when party elders united quickly behind current premier Yoshihide Suga, who promised continuity and competence after the sudden resignation of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, this year’s race is truly open. Although the LDP is a conservative party, its long-time dominance has rested in part on its tolerance for competing visions, and this year the field is crowded with four candidates representing the LDP’s many tendencies and factions. All are vying for the opportunity to put their stamp on the party as it prepares to face the electorate in a general election that must be held no later than Nov. 28.

As a result, the outcome is unusually difficult to predict—in large part because of the rules that the LDP uses to choose its leaders. In the........

© Foreign Policy


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