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POLITICS > Elections

Political parties’ polls indicate LDP’s precarious lead in Upper House election

  • July 10, 2016
  • , pp. 24-27
  • Translation
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By freelance journalist Tetsuo Suzuki


Sande Mainichi was able to obtain findings of nationwide opinion polls conducted by political parties from June 17-19, before the start of the official campaign period for the House of Councillors election, on how their candidates were doing. The results show that “compared with opinion polls conducted by media outlets, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is not enjoying a solid lead.”


These polls all show similar results. Among the 32 single-seat districts, where the candidates of the ruling LDP and Komeito are pitted against common opposition candidates, the two camps are running neck-and-neck in 12-17 constituencies.


The LDP Election Strategy Headquarters has designated the following 12 single-seat districts – Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, Fukushima, Niigata, Yamanashi, Nagano, Mie, Shiga, Oita, and Okinawa – as top priority constituencies. The polls show that this party is fighting an uphill battle in all single-seat districts in Tohoku. The LDP has not been able to improve its showing in a number of districts since the polls on March 4. On the other hand, it has been able to regain lost ground or is leading slightly by 1-4 percentage points in certain single-seat districts in Chubu and western Japan.


From the polls on June 17-19, in the worst scenario, the LDP may win only 14 seats out of the 32 districts and lose in 18 districts.


On the part of the opposition, it seems that the strategy of the Democratic Party (DP), the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the People’s Life Party of fielding one common candidate in the single-seat districts has been successful. The DP’s polls show that the opposition candidate is enjoying a comfortable advantage in seven single-seat districts and leading in five other districts. There are also two districts where their candidates are gradually catching up with the LDP candidate since the March survey.


However, the opposition parties are not doing well in the proportional representation segment because they failed to agree on a consolidated ticket. The opinion polls show that support for the opposition parties in this segment is dispersed, a situation relatively favorable for the LDP.


Another notable feature of this Upper House election is that five citizens’ groups have formed the Shimin Rengo alliance to support the opposition parties. However, without a consolidated ticket, these groups are getting increasingly frustrated. Since supporters of each party hand out their own leaflets, voters who get them are unable to decide which party to vote for.


Among the opinion polls conducted by the media outlets, a Yomiuri Shimbun poll on June 17-19 showed that 35% of voters will vote for the LDP, while Mainichi Shimbun’s poll on June 18-19 indicated that 30% will vote for the LDP. The opposition’s failure to come up with a consolidated ticket has given the LDP this relative advantage.


One figure in the political parties’ polls on June 17-19 came as a great shock to the LDP. In Tokyo, respondents who disapproved of the cabinet exceeded those who approved by 2 percentage points.


The reason for the reversal of approval and disapproval was simple: Governor Yoichi Masuzoe’s scandal.


Masuzoe resigned on June 15, while the opinion polls took place on June 17-19. Normally, negative public opinion would have subsided. Yet, the Masuzoe issue kept popping up because a gubernatorial election will also be held. This reversal of cabinet support rating in Tokyo came at the worst possible time. A Diet member who is an official of the LDP Election Strategy Headquarters indicated that the Kantei [Prime Minister’s Official Residence] and the party headquarters shared the support rating figure only with a handful of officials of the LDP Tokyo chapter and took steps to prevent the leaking of this information to outsiders. (Abridged)

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