Much smaller field, smaller ratio of young applicants
Japanese voters in the Lower House elections on October 31 will have more say over who they want to control the government.
This is due to the united front put in place by the opposition camp by backing a candidate in the vast majority of single-member districts up for grabs.
This may translate into an increase in the presence of the opposition in the most powerful chamber and the ruling coalition made up of the Liberal Democratic Party and the predominant Komeito, but with a reduced majority. All opinion polls indicate that the coalition wins.
To offer more perspective on the possible outcome, The Asahi Shimbun analyzed the key figures to give a comparison with past voting trends.
The decision of the opposition parties to work together means that fewer candidates are in the running than at any time since the current electoral system was put in place in 1996.
Only 1,051 candidates are in the running, 129 fewer than in the last lower house elections in 2017.
In 217 of the 289 single-member constituencies, or 75% of the total, the five main opposition parties supported the same individual.
The Japanese Communist Party, almost always lonely in national elections, has also decided to team up with the other major parties, with the result that this time around it only presents 130 candidates, or about half of the 243 four years ago. years. The JCP has fielded between 170 and 330 candidates in all lower house elections since 1996.
The ruling coalition won two-thirds of the seats in the last lower house elections, as the opposition was very divided on the number of candidates to run.
The PLD’s victories in the 2017 and 2014 elections also created a large number of incumbents, which in turn increased the average age of candidates running this time around.
The average age of all applicants is 54.2 years, an increase of 1.4 years from four years ago.
There are only 99 applicants under 40, or 9.4% of the total. This figure is the lowest since 1996.
Conversely, there are 97 applicants aged 70 or over, or 9.2% of the total, the highest figure after 1996.
Among the successful candidates of the PLD in the elections of 2014 and 2017, the incumbents represented more than 90% of the total. One of the reasons for the low rate of young candidates this time around is the lack of opportunities for the younger generation to take over from a losing older candidate who then decides to retire from politics.
Another key figure to watch will be voter turnout.
The turnout in the 2014 elections was 52.66%, the lowest after the war. Although that figure rose slightly to 53.68% in the 2017 election, the greater number of head-to-head contests between candidates from the ruling coalition and one from the opposition bloc could result in a more participation this time around, as more competitive races are at stake.
Another factor that could also increase turnout is the relative novelty of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as the new PLD leader after Yoshihide Suga resigned after just one year in office.
In the previous elections held under the leadership of a relatively new PLD leader, the turnout was higher than in the previous election. The 2000 Lower House election came about three months after Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori became the leader of the LDP and the turnout rose to 62.49%. Similarly, in the 1990 elections held about six months after Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu took office, the turnout improved to 73.31%.
The October 31 lower house election will take place 27 days after Kishida, a former foreign minister, took office as prime minister.
(This article was written by Tatsuya Sato, Hiroki Koizumi, and Naoki Kikuchi.)