In one of those serendipitous moments that come along from time to time, while I was waiting for a lunch appointment today, I happened to find myself sitting almost on top of a political rally. It started with noticing a well-dressed woman leaning into a pole, talking on a phone...then I noticed the TV cameras on the ground, journalists introducing themselves to each other.
|Policy pamphlets hot off the press|
Turned out that yes, it was Koike's party, Kibo no To but not Koike.* Never mind. (*Late this evening, Koike posted her schedule for tomorrow (Tuesday 10/10) and she is due to join her candidate Matsuzawa Kaoru at that same spot at 11.00am; I suspect it was held over from today given the media interest...hmmm, interesting.)
But let's think about what Koike might be thinking tonight. Tomorrow is the day for all candidates to be formally announced. Essentially, that will be it for Koike. If she doesn't nominate tomorrow, she will have to sit out the election as leader, but not as prime ministerial prospect. Except...by a quirk of rules, we can't rule out entirely the possibility that she could enter via the party list, the proportional vote of the lower house, rather than the single member district. It would be a little unorthodox but, Koike is nothing if not unorthodox in some ways.
There is pressure to for her to stand. The support in opinion polls has wobbled depending on her intention to stand, or not to stand; in the meantime, the Constitutional Dems have gained a kind of momentum that just might scare the conservative side. Is she prepared to risk the progressive parties, and perhaps a progressive coalition to form on the back of her wavering? She is probably too over on the right to convincingly form a 'progressive' coalition...despite the temptation.
For her to quit City Hall and return to national politics would simply burn off too much political capital. She has an opportunity to better establish her base through positive, successful gubernatorial politics, and a successful 2020 Olympics leading to a launching pad for the next election which wouldn't be due until 2021, save for more rash snap election decisions.
But she will be almost 70 years old. Should that be considered an issue? No. She appears quite healthy and energetic, and it shouldn't be a problem. There is no doubt that this election has been called at a time not to her schedule, perhaps that was also in Abe's calculations.
Public opinion polls still have the LDP sitting in prime position for a win, albeit it diminished. Abe will be cop some flack. Kibo, Koike's party, at this stage hasn't generated sufficient numbers to be convincing. It would be a big risk.
No doubt, Koike is addressing every permutation this evening. In politics, we never rule out anything but throwing her hat in the ring tomorrow? Too risky in the current climate, a gamble that would cost her eventual goal of sitting in the Prime Ministerial chair.
We shall watch the call of the cards tomorrow with great interest.