National / Politics

Liberal Democratic Party leading in poll for single-seat districts in Upper House election

Kyodo

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has gained a lead over opposition forces in 22 out of the country’s 32 single-seat constituencies ahead of Sunday’s Upper House election, the latest Kyodo News poll shows.

In the prefectural-based districts where only one seat is up for grabs, opposition parties have joined hands to field single candidates to face off with their LDP rivals in the hope of avoiding splitting the anti-LDP vote.

But the opposition has an edge in only Okinawa and Nagano prefectures while running neck-and-neck with the LDP in eight other districts, according to the three-day telephone survey conducted through Tuesday as well as an analysis of information gathered by Kyodo News.

The 32 seats are among the 124 seats up for grabs in the election for the 245-member upper chamber. Voters cast two ballots — one to choose electoral district representatives for 74 of the Upper House’s contested seats, and one under a proportional representation system to fill the remaining 50 seats with candidates from parties’ lists.

Although 40.5 percent of respondents said they were undecided regarding which candidate to vote for, the outcome of the survey is the latest sign that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s LDP and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, are heading for a solid victory.

How the LDP candidates fare in single-seat districts will affect the fate of Abe’s cherished goal of pushing through a first-ever amendment of the pacifist postwar Constitution.

Initiating a constitutional amendment requires two-thirds majorities in both Diet chambers, followed by a majority in a national referendum. The ruling coalition currently holds a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives.

In the last Upper House election, in 2016, in which the ruling coalition retained a majority by a comfortable margin, LDP candidates beat opposition-backed rivals in 21 out of the 32 single-seat districts.

The LDP enjoyed the highest support rate among political parties at 33.8 percent in the latest survey, but its lead over the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan narrowed from the previous poll conducted earlier this month.

The support rate for the CDP stood at 9.1 percent, slightly up from 8.6 percent.

Support for the LDP’s coalition partner, Komeito, stood at 5.1 percent, followed by 4.4 percent for the Nippon Ishin no Kai, an opposition party that is in favor of constitutional amendment. Some 31.4 percent said they do not support a specific party.

The survey also suggested the possibility of a lower turnout than the 2016 Upper House election, with 68.3 percent saying they are either “greatly interested” or “interested to a certain degree,” down from 72.2 percent seen in 2016.

The survey covered 54,050 households with eligible voters selected through random-digit dialing and responses were received from 43,614 people.