Running for the top post are popular vaccine minister Taro Kono, former foreign minister Fumio Kishida, former internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda.
Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) votes for a new leader on Wednesday, who will almost certainly become the next prime minister, after current premier Yoshihide Suga announced he would not seek a second term as party leader.
Running for the top post are popular vaccine minister Taro Kono, former foreign minister Fumio Kishida, former internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda from the party’s dwindling liberal wing.
Here are the next steps and important dates in Japan’s political calendar. Why does it matter?
* The winner of the LDP leadership race is expected to replace Suga as premier of Japan given the LDP’s majority in parliament’s powerful lower house.
* The new prime minister will have to deal with an economy battered by emergency curbs aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus, which is only now starting to slow and strains on the medical system ease.
* The new prime minister must call an election this year. How does the vote work?
* There will be 764 votes up for grabs for the LDP leadership race, with the candidate who takes the majority set to become party president.
* Half of the votes (382) will be allocated to LDP lawmakers who will cast one ballot each.
* The other half are determined by 1.13 million rank-and-file party members registered with the LDP. The votes cast by party members will be allocated according to a proportional representation system called the D’Hondt method.
* If no one wins a majority in the first round of voting, there will be a run-off vote between the top two candidates.
* A total of 429 votes will be cast in the run-off, of which 382 lawmakers and 47 local party chapters will be allocated a ballot each. What’s happens after the LDP leadership vote?
* Once a new LDP leader is elected, parliament will be called into session on October 4 to elect the country’s next prime minister. The candidate who wins the majority of votes cast by the lower and upper houses of parliament will take the top job.
* If the two chambers choose different candidates, and negotiations between the two houses fail to agree on one, the lower house decision will prevail. Given the LDP’s majority in the lower chamber, the LDP leader will likely be elected as prime minister.
* The new premier is also expected to form a new cabinet and reshuffle the LDP party executives in early Oct. When is the next general election?
* The terms of the current members of the lower house of parliament run until October 21, meaning a general election will be held this year.
* Prime ministers reserve the right to dissolve the lower house of parliament and call a snap election. Snap elections must take place within 40 days of the premier dissolving the lower house of parliament.
* Local media have reported, quoting LDP executives, that the lower chamber will likely be dissolved in mid-October, with the election slated for either November 7 or November 14. In Japan, elections are traditionally held on a Sunday.
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