Prepoll turncoats emerge

by and

A friend today may turn against you tomorrow — especially when talk of an election is in the air.

The Liberal Party, which until recently was part of the ruling coalition, on Tuesday turned its coat and bashed its former partner, the Liberal Democratic Party. It claimed that the current LDP-led government is a “scratch administration that is exposing its ugly side to the public.”

The turnaround seemed to be prompted by mounting speculation that Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori will opt to call a general election as early as June.

During the day’s Lower House plenary session, Nobuaki Futami, a senior Liberal Party member, went on to criticize the LDP’s unclear process of selecting the new prime minister.

“Even the (Russian) Communist Party during Stalin’s era would pale in comparison,” Futami said, referring to a meeting of five LDP leaders on the night of April 2, during which Mori was reportedly picked as successor to the comatose Keizo Obuchi.

“I doubt that the LDP leaders would have made the decision in such a way had they used common sense,” Futami said.

Keeping his eyes closed, the Liberal Party’s maverick leader Ichiro Ozawa remained silent during Futami’s speech, while LDP members hooted and jeered at the Liberals’ complete turnaround.

Breaking off its 15-month alliance with the LDP, the Liberal Party defected from the ruling coalition earlier this month. Following a series of defections, the formerly 50-member-strong party now consists of only 24 lawmakers.

“It seems to me that the only concern of (LDP leaders) is to remain in power,” Futami said.