Suga wins backing of leading LDP factions in race to replace Abe

Suga wins backing of leading LDP factions in race to replace Abe

A major faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party led by Finance Minister Taro Aso is set to support Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in a vote to pick the successor to outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.

Suga, the government’s top spokesman, has indicated he will stand in the elections, sources close to the matter said. He is expected to announce his candidacy in the LDP leadership race after the party formally decides on Tuesday to hold the election on Sept. 14.

Aso, a longtime Abe ally, who himself held the top slot from 2008 to 2009, has said he will not seek a second turn in power, saying he would throw the support of his 54-member faction behind whoever can best implement policies that align with his thinking.

Suga also officially garnered the support of LDP heavyweight and current Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai’s faction, which boasts 47 members. Earlier in the day, a group of lawmakers, including former farm minister Takamori Yoshikawa, met with Suga and urged him to join the race.

But perhaps more crucially for Suga’s hopes, the LDP was also expected to reach a decision Tuesday that the election will be conducted with only Upper and Lower House party lawmakers voting. By invoking an emergency election clause in the party’s bylaws, the move would leave out rank-and-file party members, thereby depriving one potential candidate, former defense chief Shigeru Ishiba, of a demographic believed essential for any chance at victory.

Coronavirus has made a sort of leper of Trump. A lack of federal leadership and his support for prematurely ending state lockdowns he never truly supported appears to be propelling a rise in Covid-19 cases in small midwest towns and rural communities from Iowa to Texas. These are the heartlands of Trump’s America, where his most loyal voters live.

As a result, Republicans running for Congress are running away from Trump, fearful of infection from the miasma of lies and distrust enveloping the White House. As jobs disappear by the tens of millions, Democrats’ hopes of winning the Senate are rising. Biden’s lead in key battleground states is widening, fuelled by economic meltdown and Trump’s gaffes.