The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has just now elected Taro Aso as its president.
Speculation that the presence of so many candidates might deprive Aso of the needed majority votes and lead way to a run-off where anti-Aso forces could consolidate and deny Aso the party presidency for the fourth time did not take place, as the former foreign minister was able to secure 351 out of the total 525 votes in the first ballot.
Amazingly, former Economics Minister Kaoru Yosano landed second with 66 votes. The other favorite, TV personality and Japan’s first female National Security Adviser and Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, landed third with 47 votes. I find this surprising, for Koike enjoys the support of Koizumi and his children. But then again maybe it’s Koizumi’s support that made her lose?
Aso, who just turned 68 the other day, is set to become the country’s first Catholic prime minister when the Diet convenes this Wednesday. But the next question is, how long will Aso hold power?
He may try to buy time as much as he want, but there’s no doubt that a snap elections this year is inevitable. The LDP election got for the party much publicity, but most in the media described the hype as what it really was: a political kabuki geared towards grabbing the limelight from the DPJ, kind of like the Postal Debate during the Koizumi era.
Aso, a former Olympian and a self-proclaimed manga addict, is popular and populist. But it remains to be seen whether he can do a Koizumi under the present circumstances. Yes, he is popular. But the LDP and its policies are not.
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