As Sunday’s Lower House election draws closer, the Liberal Democratic Party will be paying close attention to benchmarks that measure voter turnout, women’s political representation and the number of seats that would make or break the ruling party. Here are the key numbers to watch:
Voter turnout may fall to a record low for the third consecutive Lower House election, with rain expected nationwide on Sunday. The turnout in the previous December 2014 election, stood at 52.66 percent, which was down 6.66 percentage points from 2012.
Experts say, however, that voter interest is strong this time. Over 4.1 million voters cast ballots in the first five days since early voting started on Wednesday last week. That’s a 52 percent increase in early voting from previous poll, which covered the same five-day period.
A Kyodo News telephone survey conducted between Oct. 15 and 17 also suggests growing interest, with 77.6 percent of respondents saying they are very interested or somewhat interested in the election — a 3.4 percentage-point increase since just after the start of the campaign, and up 6.9 points from the same period in the 2014 election campaign.
“The turnout depends on the weather of the day. But it could be on a par with the turnout (of 52.66 percent) last time,” an LDP official said.
The turnout reached a record 69.28 percent in the 2009 Lower House election, when the Democratic Party of Japan swept to power.
A total of 209 female candidates are running, up from 198 in the 2014, and accounting for a record 17.7 percent of the total.
The number of women elected could exceed the record of 54, set when an all-time high of 229 women ran in the 2009 election.
The number of Lower House seats has been reduced by 10 to 465, and attention is on whether the LDP can seize an absolute majority of 261 seats for three Lower House elections in a row. Winning 261 seats will enable the ruling party to dominate standing committee chairman posts and secure a majority in all committees in the Lower House. The ruling party, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, held 290 seats before the chamber was dissolved.
The Kyodo News survey showed the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito are poised to retain about 310 seats — exactly two-thirds of the 465-seat chamber.
A two-thirds supermajority is significant because the Constitution — which the LDP has sought to change since the party’s inception in 1955 — requires at least two-thirds of lawmakers in both houses of the Diet to approve a proposed amendment before it can be put to a nationwide referendum.
In the same survey, Kibo no To (Party of Hope) and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan are projected to gain around 50 seats each, which puts them both in the running for the dubious distinction of becoming the main opposition party while holding the fewest seats in a Lower House election since 1955.
The Democratic Party of Japan — predecessor of the moribund Democratic Party — became the main opposition force with the fewest seats in the 2012 election when it secured just 57.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.