The first round of unified local elections held on Sunday was marked by poor competition between the ruling camp and opposition parties in gubernatorial elections, prefectural assembly races and elections in some major cities. The opposition camp bears much of the blame for failing to provide voters with a meaningful alternative to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc, which racked up another victory at the polls following its landslide wins in national elections in recent years.
Incumbents backed by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party won all 10 gubernatorial elections. The incumbents were challenged by candidates backed by the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan in only two prefectures: Hokkaido and Oita. The DPJ endorsed LDP-backed incumbents in six prefectures and was unable to field its own candidate in two prefectures including Mie, the home turf of party chief Katsuya Okada. It’s not too difficult to imagine that voter interest in elections where major parties do not compete would be poor. The average turnout in the gubernatorial races was a mere 47.14 percent.
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