The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is likely to win a majority Sept. 11, while the Democratic Party of Japan may not end up with the 175 seats it held when the House of Representatives was dissolved, a Kyodo News survey shows.
The findings, which indicate the LDP could secure 241 seats, apparently reflect a general feeling among voters that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was correct in calling the election over the single issue of postal privatization.
Such an outcome, however, is still anything but certain, as the DPJ appears strong in certain districts outside the large cities, unlike in previous elections, while about 36 percent of voters have yet to decide which party or candidates to vote for.
The survey, conducted by telephone Thursday to Saturday, indicates the DPJ may perform poorly in the proportional representation section and in districts in large cities, where the main opposition party found strength in the 2003 Lower House election and the 2004 House of Councilors election.
While the DPJ topped the proportional representation votes in last year’s Upper House election, the LDP is expected to finish this time with about 10 seats more than the DPJ. The LDP is also expected to have a strong showing in the single-seat districts, including in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Saitama.
New Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner, is likely to secure 34 House of Representatives seats, the same number it held at the time of the dissolution, while the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party will also maintain their strength, the survey indicates.
When the Lower House was dissolved, the LDP held 249 seats, its partner New Komeito 34, the DPJ 175, the JCP nine and the SDP six.
The newly launched Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) and New Party Nippon, both of which were established mainly by former LDP lawmakers who voted against Koizumi’s postal privatization bills, appear to be struggling.
While Koizumi has repeatedly said he will step down if the ruling coalition fails to win a majority, the survey indicates the LDP and New Komeito will together win as many as 290 seats, enabling him to stay in power.
The nationwide survey was conducted through random computer-generated telephone calls to 195,832 households. Some 153,600 people responded.
Commenting on the survey, a senior LDP official said it shows that public support for Koizumi’s reforms has broadened after making the point of contention clear by fielding candidates in all districts who back postal privatization.
DPJ Secretary General Tatsuo Kawabata said he hopes the DPJ will make a last-minute effort to secure more seats by contrasting the qualities of the party’s president, Katsuya Okada, whom he termed as serious and earnest, with those of Koizumi.
The DPJ has focused on the pension system and child-care benefit issues, which has apparently not appealed much to voters in big cities, analysts say.
JCP leader Kazuo Shii said his party will focus on trying to attract undecided voters.
Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the SDP, is hoping to secure as many seats as possible on the proportional representation list by making an appeal that voting for the DPJ and LDP would mean helping to “scrap the Constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9.”
As for the apparent lack of interest among voters so far in New Party Nippon, Koki Kobayashi, who left the LDP, said, “The trend can change in a week. The citizens will realize that it’s nonsense to only focus on the postal privatization issue.”
Tamisuke Watanuki of Kokumin Shinto said, “I don’t care so much about (poll) figures . . . we won’t know until the election results come out.”
DPJ tries to stem tide
Katsuya Okada insisted Sunday his Democratic Party of Japan can secure victory in the Sept. 11 general election despite media polls indicating Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party is likely to win big.
“Some grim data have been published, with the result that our party has been waging a fierce battle with the LDP in urban areas” where the DPJ has traditionally been strong, he told reporters.
With a significant percentage of voters still undecided, it is “possible” to win the election and snatch power from the LDP-led coalition if the DPJ tries harder to secure support in urban areas in the next week, Okada said.
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