Liberal Democratic Party executives are discussing a plan to hold the party’s leadership election on Sept. 29, informed sources said Wednesday.
The proposed date for the election is the latest allowed under the ruling party’s presidential election rules, with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga set to reach the end of his term as LDP president on Sept. 30. Under the proposal, the start of the official campaign period would be set for Sept. 17.
LDP executives are considering the Sept. 29 plan, as the schedule would leave some time after the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympics on Sept. 5, as well as allow time for Suga to dissolve the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Japan’s parliament, in September and call an election.
A senior LDP official said that the presidential election will likely be held on Sept. 29, as the date “will broaden” Suga’s options.
Discussions within the party are expected to heat up ahead of Aug. 26, when the party’s presidential election committee will decide the date of the event.
The LDP’s election rules stipulate that the presidential election must be held between Sept. 20 and Sept. 29.
Even if the party decides a date, the election will be suspended if Suga dissolves the Lower House before the presidential election.
Some within the party have pushed for a proposal to hold the presidential election on Sept. 20, in hopes that it would be held before the general election.
Such a proposal has surfaced as the possibility of Suga dissolving the Lower House in early to mid-September is becoming less realistic, with the government unable to see whether it will be able to lift its fourth state of emergency over the novel coronavirus at the end of this month as currently scheduled.
Rivals for Suga in the leadership race are also largely absent from the picture. “It is very likely the incumbent will be re-elected,” LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai said.
On the other hand, a presidential election on Sept. 20 would leave only three days between the end of the Tokyo Paralympics and the start of the campaign period, likely to be set for Sept. 8.
Even if the coronavirus situation improves, there will not be enough time for Suga to dissolve the Lower House before the start of the campaign period.
If a rival files for candidacy in the leadership race, the LDP will not be able to put the election on hold through the Lower House dissolution by the prime minister.
Others in the LDP have suggested holding the presidential election on Sept. 26, which falls on a Sunday.
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