National / Politics

LDP attracts largest share of swing votes in Upper House poll, reclaiming position from CDP

JIJI, Staff Report

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party saw support from the largest proportion of swing voters in Sunday’s Upper House election, reclaiming a position it lost to the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan in the 2017 Lower House vote, according to an exit poll by Jiji Press.

Of respondents who said they were not firm supporters of any party, 25.5 percent said they chose the LDP under the proportional representation voting system in the upper chamber race — up from the 22.7 percent seen in the 2017 lower chamber election.

The proportion of such voters who backed the CDP this time came to 21.0 percent, down 7.0 percentage points from the 2017 Lower House election.

Some nonpartisan voters who supported the CDP in the Lower House poll are believed to have voted this time for Reiwa Shinsengumi, a group launched shortly before the Upper House election.

An increasing number of swing voters have become a key factor in recent elections, as more Japanese people have become independent and shown less commitment to the organizations with which they are affiliated.

The voter turnout meanwhile dipped to 48.8 percent, the second lowest on record. Together the figures suggest not only that a substantial number of swing voters didn’t go to polling stations but that it was predominantly opposition parties that failed to secure their support. Voters were described by some as having prioritized stability in economic and social welfare policies.

Reiwa Shinsengumi, a minor party led by former actor Taro Yamamoto, attracted 9.8 percent of swing votes in the latest election, behind Nippon Ishin no Kai, which secured 12.4 percent. The Japanese Communist Party was backed by 8.7 percent, Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, by 6.8 percent and the Democratic Party for the People by 6.2 percent.

The exit poll covered a total of 33,400 voters across the country. Nonpartisan voters accounted for 31.7 percent of them.

The share of respondents who indicated that their highest priority was issues related to pensions, nursing care and medical services came to 23.9 percent — the highest among the 12 areas identified in the exit poll — while only 6.6 percent focused on constitutional reform, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized in the LDP’s campaign.

Voters who supported the LDP paid most attention to economic and employment measures.

By age group, the LDP attracted 41.0 percent of voters under 20 years old, remaining the most popular among the group. The ruling party was supported by 40.1 percent and 46.1 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds in the 2016 Upper House and 2017 Lower House elections, respectively.

The proportion of men who voted for the LDP came to 40.4 percent, outpacing that of women by 4.9 points. Only Komeito and the JCP saw support from female voters top that from male voters by one point or more.

Among the voters who supported Reiwa Shinsengumi, which highlighted its opposition to the consumption tax hike, 19.7 percent were most concerned about the tax hike, which is slated for October.