In preparation for the Lower House election, the Democratic Party (DP) has selected candidates in 212 of the 295 districts. Out of the remaining 83 districts, only 7 or 8 have said they would be ready with prospective candidates for the election. It will be difficult for the party to offer more than the 238 required for gaining a majority in the chamber.
Some in the DP blame the misfire of the “Renho effect,” which they had hoped would help boost support for the party. According to a Sankei/FNN opinion poll conducted from November 12 to 13, support for the DP was 8.6%, a 1.7 point drop from the previous month. It was less than a quarter of the support for the Liberal Democratic Party (38.3%).
The DP publicly recruited candidates under its former president, Katsuya Okada, and some of those candidates won the Upper House election in July. This time, however, the short time until the next election makes public invitation difficult.
The dearth of the DP’s home-grown candidates will likely affect negotiations to consolidate opposition candidates with the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), which has already named its candidates in 165 districts. During a press conference, JCP President Kazuo Shii said that the party has preliminarily determined 200 candidates for endorsement. In districts where the DP fails to produce a candidate, the JCP may become the party to offer “the unified opposition candidate.”
DP senior members are visiting regions in an effort to seek members to run in the next election. (Abridged)