Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi affirmed Monday that the timing of his Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election is fixed for late September.
“There is no need to change the schedule,” Koizumi told reporters Monday night. Asked if he has any intention to push the election forward, Koizumi said: “Not at all.”
There has been speculation that the vote might be taken in early or mid-September.
The prime minister conveyed his wishes regarding the election to a meeting of top party officials earlier in the day.
Koizumi’s term as LDP president expires Sept. 30, and under party rules, the election must be held within 10 days of this date. However, expectations of an earlier vote have been mounting since last week, when the ruling coalition basically agreed to convene an extraordinary Diet session in mid-September.
Coalition partner New Komeito has been hoping the LDP presidential poll would be held earlier than scheduled, as it would increase the likelihood of the House of Representatives being dissolved for elections in the fall.
This would help prevent a dual election of both Diet chambers next summer, which New Komeito feels would put it at disadvantage. Koizumi has shown his understanding of the party’s feelings.
However, LDP members critical of Koizumi have opposed an early presidential vote, as have members of the House of Councilors, who want a dual election, according to a senior LDP member who declined to be named.
“Most Upper House LDP members don’t want an election in the fall,” the source said, adding that it would be difficult to push the presidential election forward because party rules can only be changed with the support of an absolute majority of LDP members in both Diet chambers.