The official campaign for the Democratic Party (DP) presidential election, which is taking place in light of President Renho’s resignation, started on Aug. 21. This will be a contest between two candidates, former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, 55, and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, 53. Yomiuri Shimbun’s survey of 142 Diet members who are eligible to vote shows that Maehara enjoys an advantage, having the support of a majority of 72 lawmakers. The question now is whether Edano will be able to catch up by winning the votes of rank-and-file party members and supporters and of local assembly members, which account for the majority of total electoral points. The new president will be elected at an ad hoc party convention on Sept. 1.
Maehara won the support of former Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yorihisa Matsuno, as well as Deputy Secretary General Yuichiro Tamaki, who ran in the previous presidential election, and other junior lawmakers serving three or less terms in the Diet.
In addition to the group he leads (with around 25 members), Maehara also has the support of six groups in the party, including the one headed by former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akihiro Ohata (around 15 members), enabling him to capture the support of a majority of Diet members.
While Edano enjoys the support of former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, former President Katsuya Okada, and others, only 25 lawmakers — mostly from the group led by former Vice Speaker of the House of Representatives Hirotaka Akamatsu (around 20 members) – or less than 20% of incumbent Diet members are voting for him.
However, 45 lawmakers are still undecided, so it is still possible for Edano to catch up, depending on how the debate in the campaign goes.
The DP presidential election will be a contest for 851 points. Each Diet member accounts for 2 points, or a total of 284 points, which is one-third of the total points. The party’s official candidates in national elections each hold 1 point, for a total of 127 points. Votes by party members and supporters account for 231 points and votes by local assembly members account for 209 points, which are calculated proportionately based on the total number of votes cast.