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LDP eyes vote-value disparity reform as path to dissolution / Party members eye election later in year

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at the Prime Minister’s Office after receiving recommendations about the demarcation of the single-seat constituencies on Wednesday.

The Yomiuri ShimbunA stumbling block for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe regarding the dissolution of the House of Representatives is expected to be removed with the rectification of vote value disparities — a situation which is judged to be in a “state of unconstitutionality.”

On Wednesday, the Council on the House of Representatives Electoral Districts submitted recommendations to Abe over the rezoning of the lower house’s single-seat constituencies.

The new demarcation of constituencies is expected to go into effect for a lower house election, seen to take place this summer at the earliest, after the revised Public Offices Election Law is enacted and a certain period of time spent to publicize the change in zoning.

The Liberal Democratic Party, however, is beset with many unsolved problems, such as coordinating its candidates.

At a press conference Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga expressed his view, saying Abe’s judgment about the dissolution would not be affected by the issuance of a new demarcation scheme.

However, it is considered difficult to conduct an election in the state of unconstitutionality. The government and ruling parties have a plan that the revised Public Offices Election Law will be enacted in May with a following one-month period for publicizing the new system.

Thus, the government intends to create an environment that is favorable for the dissolution to be implemented around the time of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in July.

In addition to the problems involving the sale of state-owned land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, the Abe Cabinet has been hit by a spate of scandals such as an inappropriate remark by a Cabinet member and the resignation of a parliamentary vice minister over an extramarital affair.

Under these circumstances, a mid-ranked LDP lawmaker said: “It’s better to conduct a lower house election while the approval rating [for the Abe administration] is high. The dissolution could take place at any time this autumn or later.”

However, a long period of time will unavoidably be needed to coordinate candidates within the LDP. Some LDP members talk about a plan to give preferential treatment, under the proportional representation system, to LDP lawmakers who will lose a constituency in the election under the new scheme.

However, as the party has an internal rule that candidates aged 73 or older are not officially nominated by the party, the party will have to exempt some lawmakers from the rule.

If the number of such candidates who run for proportional seats increases, it will likely provoke a strong reaction from other LDP policymakers, as the number of seats will be decreased for those who aim to be elected to office under the proportional representation system if they lose in a single-seat constituency.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election is another issue for the LDP, as the party is expected to have a hard fight. Komeito is acting in concert with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, who is in conflict with the LDP’s Tokyo chapter. A Komeito senior official said the LDP and Komeito should take time to iron out the strained bipartisan relationship.

An increasing number of lawmakers in the ruling parties have a negative opinion about conducting the dissolution near the day of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election.Speech

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