In 2017, Tokyo held landmark prefectural elections featuring a new regional party, Tokyoites First. Fueled by the popularity of Governor Yuriko Koike, Tokyoites First gained legislative control through an alliance with Komeito, relegating the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to opposition status. The alliance was surprising, especially since Komeito remained a national coalition partner with the LDP. Why would Komeito, a junior partner in a long-standing national alliance with the LDP, simultaneously ally with another party against the LDP subnationally? What explains such incongruence, or alliance juxtaposition, where a party has different partners across administrative tiers? We explain this dalliance in terms of institutional factors and party strategy. Tokyo’s distinctive voters and electoral system made for novel coalition opportunities. Strategically, Komeito’s fling signaled its autonomy to supporters and to LDP leaders, showing that its loyalty cannot be assumed.

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