Mon, Jul 23, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Support drops for Abe's coalition

POPULARITY PLUNGEOne week ahead of the Japanese upper house elections, 27 percent of those suveyed supported Abe's LDP, down 9 points from a previous poll

AP , TOKYO

Shinzo Abe, center, Japanese Prime Minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party President, attends a stumping tour to support his party's candidate Tamayo Marukawa, left, and Sanzo Hosaka, right, at a Tokyo shopping district yesterday, ahead of the July 29 upper house election. Japan's ruling coalition is likely to lose its upper house majority in the elections, which could cost Abe his job.

PHOTO: AFP

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition appears likely to lose control of parliament's upper house in next week's elections, dragged down by a series of scandals and ministerial misfires, three media polls said yesterday.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, the New Komei Party, need to win 64 of the 121 seats up for grabs in next Sunday's elections to maintain their upper house majority.

The remaining 121 of the upper chamber's 242 seats are not up for election. The ruling bloc currently controls the chamber with a combined 132 seats.

But three separate surveys of voters found the ruling coalition would struggle to hang on to its majority. The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan may also gain enough ground to become the largest party in the upper house, the telephone surveys found.

An electoral defeat for Abe would not immediately threaten the ruling coalition's hold on power because it has a commanding majority in the more powerful lower house. But a loss would cause embarrassment and could prompt party leaders to force Abe from office.

Based on its poll of 42,396 voters around the country, the Mainichi Shimbun said the DPJ was likely to win more than 50 seats in the July 29 vote. The paper projected the LDP to win less than 44, while New Komei was expected to have difficulty hanging onto its 13.

PREDICTIONS

The business daily Nikkei Shimbun offered a similar forecast based on its own voter survey, while Kyodo News agency projected the DPJ to pick up more than 55 seats, which would be a record win for the party since its founding in 1996. Kyodo's projections for the ruling parties matched the predicitons of the other polls.

The Mainichi also found that nearly one-third of respondents to its survey said they supported the DPJ, while one-fifth backed the LDP.

The LDP's support stood at 25 percent versus 18 percent for the DPJ in the paper's previous survey conducted June 30 to July 1, though it cautioned against directly comparing the figures given the previous poll was much smaller.

The Nikkei, meanwhile, found that 27 percent of the 21,563 voters it surveyed said they support Abe's government, a new record low in the paper's polls and a drop of nine percentage points from its previous survey.

The latest poll results offer further gloom for Abe's government, which has seen its popularity plunge since a series of scandals hit the Cabinet and the departure of some key ministers.

No margin of error was provided for the three random telephone surveys, all of which were conducted July 19 to 21. Kyodo obtained responses from 43,407 people for its poll.

Also see story:
The issues that face Shinzo Abe and Japan as it goes to the polls

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