The Liberal Democratic Party will hold its next presidential election Sept. 20, members of the ruling party’s election board said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s term as party president expires at the end of that month. Campaigning will begin Sept. 8.

Thus far, no LDP lawmaker has officially declared plans to challenge Koizumi, although dissatisfaction with the prime minister’s economic policies remains strong within the ruling party.

The 355 Diet members from the LDP are each entitled to a full vote.

The proposed election schedule will be formalized at the LDP’s Executive Council meeting to be held Friday, the board members said.

Voting among other LDP members and supporters of the party nationwide — allocated a combined 300 votes — will take place between the start of the campaigning period and Sept. 19. Votes will be compiled by the LDP’s prefectural chapters.

Koizumi was first elected LDP president in April 2001. He took the prime ministership at the same time because the LDP-led tripartite coalition has a majority in the House of Representatives, which has the final say in selecting the prime minister.

His power base in the party remains weak, largely because he has refused to follow many of the LDP’s traditional policymaking practices.

However, the anti-Koizumi camp appears unable to find a strong candidate who can challenge him.

Former LDP policy chief Shizuka Kamei, one of Koizumi’s foremost critics, has stated he is ready to run “if no other candidates emerge.”

The party’s largest faction, led by former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, has yet to reach a consensus on whether to field a candidate.

There is speculation anti-Koizumi forces may try to field Mitsuo Horiuchi, chairman of the LDP Executive Council, or former Foreign Minister Yohei Kono. Neither of these potential candidates appears to have garnered broad support among the party ranks.

Some other lawmakers, including younger-generation politicians, have also said they may enter the race if they can secure support from the minimum 20 LDP lawmakers required to file a candidacy.

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