Exit polls of parliamentary elections in Japan on Sunday indicated that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of the prime minister Japanese, Fumio Kishida, would retain his majority, albeit with losses that could slow his drive to ease wealth inequalities.
Maintaining a majority in the lower house is seen as key for Kishida, who has only been in office for a few weeks, as it will allow him to hold onto his position within a ruling party divided by factions.
However, polls by the public broadcaster NHK showed that the conservative PLD came out of the elections more weakened.
The vote was a test for Kishida, who called the elections shortly after taking office earlier this month, and for his powerful party, which has been plagued by the perception that it mishandled the coronavirus pandemic.
Kishida, a soft-spoken ex-banker, has struggled to shake off the image of lack of charisma. While he has stuck to the traditional policies of the party’s right wing, pushing for increased military spending, he has also vowed to tackle wealth inequality, promoting a “new capitalism” that has stoked concern among investors.
Keeping the majority on its own will preserve the LDP’s ability to shape its policy without becoming overly dependent on its Buddhist-backed junior coalition partner Komeito.
“The coalition itself will not crumble and the government will continue, but even taking this into account, the number of seats they hold will definitely decrease and this could make it difficult to run parliament,” said Airo Hino, professor of political science at Waseda University. from Tokyo.
The PLD is expected to win 234 to 253 seats, up from the 233 needed for a majority, NHK said. This would be well below the 276 seats before the elections.
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