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More than half of the unaffiliated voters who cast ballots in Sunday’s House of Councilors election threw their support behind the Democratic Party of Japan, according to Kyodo News exit polls.

Some 19.2 percent of those who responded to the survey said they don’t support a particular party. Of these, 50.8 percent said they either voted for the DPJ or for a DPJ-backed candidate.

This is more than double the percentage of unaffiliated voters who said they voted for the DPJ in the previous Upper House election in 2001. This indicates it was the unaffiliated vote Sunday that propelled the main opposition force past the Liberal Democratic Party.

The exit polls, covering 75,000 voters nationwide, showed that 18 percent of unaffiliated voters opted for the LDP, roughly half the percentage of unaffiliated voters who cast their votes for the dominant party three years ago, when it rode the popularity wave of its new president, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Meanwhile, 9 percent of unaffiliated voters said they supported New Komeito, 8.5 percent voted for the Japanese Communist Party and 6.6 percent cast their ballots for the Social Democratic Party of Japan.

The exit polls also showed that 23.7 percent of voters who said they support Koizumi’s Cabinet did not vote for the LDP or its coalition partner, New Komeito, in the proportional representation segment of the ballot.

This indicates that nearly one in every four voters who back the government voted for the opposition in the part of the election that decides 48 of the 121 seats that were contested.

Of those who said they back the Koizumi Cabinet, 59.8 percent said they voted for the LDP and 16.5 percent said they backed New Komeito. The DPJ garnered 17.1 percent of those votes, while the JCP and SDP garnered 2.4 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, of the respondents who said they do not support the Koizumi government, 64 percent cast their ballots for the DPJ, giving credence to suggestions that Japan is steadily moving toward a two-party political system. The JCP won 11.6 percent of these votes, while the SDP garnered 7.3 percent.

Of those who said they do not support Koizumi’s Cabinet, 7.4 percent voted for the LDP while 6.4 percent cast their ballots for New Komeito. By gender, 47.2 percent of men and 35.8 percent of women cast their proportional representation ballots for the DPJ, surpassing the 31.1 percent of men and 34.1 percent of women who did so for the LDP, according to the exit polls.

By age group, the DPJ won more support than the LDP in every bracket except people 70 or older.

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