The Kochikai began life as the Ikeda faction in the early days of the LDP and traditionally had a elite, bureaucratic coloration, placing it squarely in what was once the LDP mainstream. The restored Koga-Tanigaki faction will presumably have a total of 50 Lower House and 11 Upper House members, but would not alter the ranking of factions by size — the Koga faction is already the third largest faction, and adding the Tanigaki faction’s fifteen members would simply narrow the gap between the second-ranked Tsushima faction and the Kochikai.
But will the merger be the first of a series of rearrangements among the LDP’s factions?
Will, for example, the supporters of Taro Aso scattered throughout the ranks of the LDP make their support explicit and join Mr. Aso’s own faction?
Will the Koizumi Kids continue the process of becoming a formal faction as a way to preserve some scrap of influence within the party?
How will the Tsushima faction recover from the blow of losing its supremacy in the Upper House among LDP factions?
In other words, will the factions become at once more coherent ideologically and reorganized around a new set of individuals?
Any new alignment might depend on the results of the new Lower House election, and the distribution of seats that are sure to be lost. Presumably if the losses are concentrated in certain factions the impetus to merge will grow.
If Mr. Koga gets his way as head of election strategy, the election will be held sooner than later: at a meeting with the Aomori prefectural LDP chapter, he suggested that it will be best to hold an election following the July G8 summit.