Mr. Hosokawa, who after heading up the first non-LDP government left politics to seclude himself in Kanagawa and work as an artist, met secretly with Mr. Koizumi in late February. They purportedly discussed the formation of a new party that would aim to, of all things, roll back the 1994 electoral reform that was the Hosokawa government’s signature achievement. The article suggests that the new party would rest on a foundation of Mr. Koizumi’s followers and veterans from Mr. Hosokawa’s Japan New Party, including LDP members Koike Yuriko, Ito Tatsuya, Kamoshita Ichiro, as well as DPJ members Hatoyama Yukio, Maehara Seiji, Edano Yukio, Noda Yoshihiko, and Ozawa Sakihito.
As with all-too-many political articles, there is a lot of rumor-mongering but very little concrete information. Why, for example, the fixation of returning to medium-sized, multiple-member districts? Is this interest strictly tactical, an acknowledgment that the current system does not favor the creation of a new party?
What about the defections? Would the individuals mentioned in the article actually be willing to defect? I’m especially curious about the DPJ members provided. I’ve written about DPJ disaffection with Ozawa Ichiro’s leadership in the past — the article includes three members who have been especially vocal at times in their criticism of Mr. Ozawa (Hatoyama, Maehara, and Edano) — but will these members actually defect from the DPJ?
I find LDP defections much more plausible, especially by Koizumians. It seems highly plausible that in the aftermath of an election, when the LDP will likely be torn asunder by a bitter fight for control of the party, the Koizumians will split either to form their own swing party or jump to the DPJ, perhaps making the difference in control of the House of Representatives following a close election.
The pressure in the political system is unmistakably building, and the next general election will likely transform the landscape one way or another. But it’s anyone’s guess as to what the landscape will look like, because much will depend on the calculations of individuals, Mr. Koizumi included.