By Kimihiko Sato, Kento Matsushima, and Fumi Yada
Ahead of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential election to select the successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (campaigning to start on Sept. 8; voting to take place on Sept. 14), all LDP prefectural federations except for the Akita federation plan to hold a primary election among LDP party members and fraternity members [party associates], the Asahi has learned. Although the number of local votes will be the smallest since the 2001 LDP presidential election, all candidates take this year’s prefectural vote seriously as it may impact the new administration’s legitimacy.
As of Sept. 4, 44 prefectural federations plan to hold primaries, and the remaining two federations, those of Mie and Kagawa Prefectures, are also likely to hold primaries.
Each LDP prefectural federation will be allocated three votes in the LDP presidential election. Among the LDP’s local federations, six have decided to adopt a “winner-takes-all” method (Kanagawa, where Suga’s electoral district is located; Tokyo; Chiba; Saitama; Wakayama; and Okinawa) .The candidate who wins the primary will take all three of the prefectural federation’s votes. Of the remaining prefectural federations, 31 are expected to allocate the votes according to the proportion of support each candidate receives (D’Hondt method). Meanwhile, the LDP’s Akita federation decided not to hold a primary but to give all three votes to Suga, who is originally from the prefecture.
In LDP presidential elections, local members are usually given 394 votes, the same number of votes as those cast by the LDP Diet members. This year, however, the prefectural federations have a total of 141 votes, only one third of the Diet members’ and 26% of all votes.
The campaign period is shorter as well. With the election taking place only seven days after the announcement, this is the shortest campaign since 2001, except for one LDP presidential election where no voting took place.
The D’Hondt method favored by most of the prefectural federations reduces the local votes’ weight in deciding the outcome of the election. The “winner-takes-all” method, which enabled an underdog candidate to achieve a surprise win in 2001, was adopted by only six prefectural federations. (Abridged)