Ahead of the start on Sept. 7 of the official campaign period for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential election, Mainichi Shimbun surveyed voting trends among Diet members and rank-and-file party members. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 63, who is vying for a third term as party president, is on course to win 250, or over 60%, of the 405 party members’ votes. Combined with over 80% of the Diet members’ votes that he has already secured, he has a comfortable lead. Former Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba, who is banking on party member votes, is expected to win only around 140 of these votes.
Mainichi interviewed officers of the LDP prefectural chapters from Aug. 30, when the stage was set for the Abe-Ishiba clash, to Sept. 5. It analyzed the information obtained factoring in also party members’ voting results in the 2012 presidential race.
Abe is leading in Yamaguchi, his home constituency, Fukui, Aichi, Wakayama, Oita, Shiga, Chiba, and 21 other prefectures. Ishiba, who won more rank-and-file members’ votes than Abe in the 2012 election, is leading Abe only in Tottori, Shimane, Mie, and Kochi and appears to be fighting an uphill battle. However, the two candidates are still engaged in heated contests in Iwate, Niigata, Ehime, Saga, and 11 other prefectures, so the voting trends may still change.
Meanwhile, of the total 405 Diet members eligible to vote, 55 of the 73 lawmakers unaffiliated with any faction are supporting Abe and only 6 are voting for Ishiba. Abe has secured a total of 341 Diet member votes from his faction, the Hosoda faction, plus the Aso, Kishida, Nikai, and Ishihara factions (with a total membership of 257), 29 members of the Takeshita faction, and the unaffiliated Diet members.
On the other hand, Ishiba has the support of his own faction (20 members), 22 Takeshita faction members, and the unaffiliated lawmakers, making a total of 48 votes. Chief Deputy Secretary General Shinjiro Koizumi (not affiliated to any faction) and 15 others have not indicated whom they will support.
Rank-and-file party members will vote from Sept. 7-19, while the Diet members will cast their votes on Sept. 20. Both categories of votes will be counted at the same time, and the votes of party members nationwide will be apportioned using the D’Hondt method.