Tokyo – Japanese Prime Minister (PM) Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc could come close to keeping its two-thirds “super” majority in an Oct. 22 lower house election, defying some predictions of substantial losses and solidifying his grip on power, a survey published by the Nikkei business daily on Wednesday showed.
Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its more dovish junior partner, the Komeito, are likely to secure more than 290 seats in the 465-seat chamber, the Nikkei said.
The ruling bloc had a two-thirds “super majority” in the lower house before the chamber was dissolved. The number of seats has been cut from 475 as part of electoral reforms.
The Nikkei forecast was broadly in line with a Kyodo news agency forecast released on Thursday that saw Abe’s coalition winning more than 300 seats.
However, Kyodo said 54.4 percent of voters were still undecided. A survey by the Yomiuri newspaper showed the LDP and Komeito winning close to 300 seats.
A strong showing by Abe’s coalition would boost his chances of winning a third term as LDP leader from next September, putting him on track to become Japan’s longest-serving premier.
Abe called the snap election amid confusion in the opposition camp and after an uptick in his ratings, which had been hurt earlier this year by suspected cronyism scandals, in hopes of gaining a fresh mandate after nearly five years in power.
But the outlook has been clouded by the emergence of popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s Party of Hope, a fledgling party that the former LDP lawmaker and defense minister calls a reformist, conservative alternative to Abe’s LDP.