Some observations on the serious business of anime high school student council elections.
Generally, when I think of primaries, I think of partisan primaries, like those in the States. The idea is to have an internal fight to see which candidate your party will be picking to fight for real. The candidate gets tested and gets a chance to build support and a machine within the party. In Canadian terms (and probably in Australia and the UK too), this resembles nomination battles, but these are typically much less intense than primary elections (and they would matter more if it weren’t for leader veto).
In KoiChoco, we have nonpartisan primaries, since there appear to be no parties. However, there do appear to be formal factions of the student council, each of which are putting up candidates. This means that the primary is largely for sifting through the candidates and allowing only serious candidates through. At first, I thought this would basically look like France’s two-round presidential elections, where only the top two candidates go on, but then they mentioned a 10% vote cutoff, which means that it wouldn’t be a head-to-head fight. I’m sure we can all think of a few situations where a three-way (or more) race led to some electoral shenanigans.
I heard that KoiChoco is supposed to be about Japanese politics, which seemed kinda weird, since Japan’s government is a parliamentary system, not a presidential one. Coincidentally, someone made a Japanese politics thread on SA a few weeks ago and I’d started reading it and now KoiChoco’s setup makes a bit more sense in that context. That’s because the way the elections are set up resembles an internal leadership race more than a general election.
In a parliamentary system, governments are formed by members of the legislature if they’re able to hold the confidence of the legislature. Typically, this is the party with the most representatives in the legislature. There are no direct elections for the head of the government, which is why Japan can keep swapping out prime ministers like they do. So a direct election of the student council president doesn’t quite translate very well into Japanese electoral politics.
If we shift focus into internal party politics, things are a bit different. Conservatives in Canada lament how the Liberals pretty much ruled Canada with an iron fist for the last century. When parties stay in power for that long, they become big-tent parties and end up containing a number of different factions vying for control of the party. Essentially, political skirmishes happen internally, rather than externally. In the case of the Liberals, this took the form of two main rival factions constantly undermining the other since all the way back when Pearson was prime minister.
This is essentially the case for the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan. The LDP literally ruled Japan from the end of the Second World War up until 2009. The result is that Japanese politics largely stems from the various internal factions battling with each other. From the main Wikipedia page for the LDP, there are three main factions listed. Of course, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that the LDP means business when it comes to factional infighting.
This is where the student council factions come into play. There are three factions in the student council: finance, general affairs, and security. Each faction has their own candidate and has a political machine backing them, except for the incumbent security affairs department, who have been barred from putting up a candidate. Obviously, they can’t just sit back while other factions are making a power play, so they move all of their support to Yuuki, the dark horse candidate.
This is the kind of thing that happens more with internal races than in general elections. There’s no reason for parties to support each other in a general election, but internally, the expectation is that you’ll get favours out of it. So people move delegates to support another candidate or they’ll drop out and give them their staff or something. And of course, there is the trying to undermine the other factions as much as possible aspect too.
Of course, this isn’t a perfect analogy. Based on my authoritative source, the Wikipedia page for the LDP, the leadership selection rests in the hands of the caucus, and, by extension, various powerful figures in the party. The KoiChoco system seems to be more analogous to a one member, one vote system, where party leadership is determined by the membership of the party, which in this case are the regular students.
Having been a member during the New Democratic Party’s recent leadership race, I can say that while OMOV races aren’t quite as drama-filled as delegated races (like the Liberals’ 2006 race), there were still plenty of shenanigans going on to make it interesting. And this was for a party that didn’t have many factional divisions at all.
Caucus and Council
So with all of this talk about support, I’m curious to find out how exactly this student council works. In a lot of different systems, it doesn’t matter if you’re the top dog if your council or whatever is going to ignore you. See Kevin Rudd for an example of a caucus dumping a prime minister. Or see Rob Ford for an example of a city council that can completely ignore a mayor. Yuuki’s running as an independent and he’s supported at the moment by a faction, but then what? How powerful is the student council president, exactly?
Typically, a leader is powerful because they can reward their supporters through various means to keep them happy. Usually, this is through stuff like appointments to cabinet or supporting friendly projects or something and the faction itself will have plenty of resources to access as well. But in Yuuki’s case, it’s the other way around. The current student council president says he has no intention of setting up Yuuki as a puppet, but without any real support, I don’t see how he won’t just fall into that role.
The Honourable Minister of Finance
This has nothing to do with anything, but I found it funny that the frontrunner to be president was the finance commissioner. Where have we seen finance ministers belonging to rival factions being frontrunners in a race to replace an outgoing prime minister before? Was it Canada? Or the UK? That doesn’t bode particularly well for Shinonome’s presidency, does it?