The Upper House election campaign will end soon and voting will take place on Sunday. Both ruling and opposition parties are worried that voter turnout will fall below the 52.61% rate of the previous election in 2013. In spite of the parties’ efforts to boost voter interest in highly contested districts, voters’ reactions to campaign speeches have been detached and unenthusiastic. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members point out that voting turnout may end up being less than 50%. The lowest rate so far was 44.52% in 1995.
According to the Mainichi Shimbun’s special opinion poll in June, 69% said they are definitely going to vote, 4 points lower than the last election. Only 43% of 18- and 19 year-olds answered that they will definitely go to the polls, 26% lower than average.
Some LDP members lament that there is no feeling of “excitement” for this election.
Low turnout is generally regarded by both sides as beneficial to the incumbent party. In the poll, 25% stated that they do not support any particular party, out of which 11% said they will vote for the LDP, another 11% said they will vote for the Democratic Party (DP), and 61% said they are undecided. However, only 57% of these respondents said they will definitely vote, which is lower than average. A senior LDP official said, “In a low turnout election, fewer LDP supporters vote. It will not necessarily be advantageous for the LDP.”
The DP feels that many of those across the nation who are not affiliated with any party will support the opposition.
Masao Matsumoto, director of the Social Survey Research Center at Saitama University, explained: “The lack of enthusiasm for this election stems from an absence of clear points of contention and options.” He pointed out: “18- and 19 year-olds are voting this time. As adults, we cannot afford to hide behind the excuse that there’s no basis for choosing.” (Abridged)