Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party is heading for a solid victory in the Oct. 22 general election while the party led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike is lagging behind even after grabbing the spotlight upon its launch, a Kyodo News survey showed Wednesday.
The LDP and its coalition ally Komeito party are expected to win over 300 seats in the 465-seat lower house, the survey suggests. Koike's Party of Hope may win around 60 seats, while another new face, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, may take 30 seats or more.
The telephone survey was conducted after official campaigning for the House of Representatives election started Tuesday. The political landscape has changed drastically over the past few weeks, with the Democratic Party, formerly the main opposition, splitting up and many of its members joining the conservative Party of Hope or the left-leaning CDPJ.
In the upcoming election, 289 will be elected from single-seat districts and the remaining 176 through proportional representation in 11 regional blocks.
Of those surveyed, 54.4 percent said they have not yet decided who to cast their ballots for in single-seat districts, leaving room for the situation to change.
According to the survey, the LDP is doing well in around 220 of the single seat-districts and is overwhelming other parties in the 11 proportional representation blocks, where ballots are cast for parties rather than individual candidates.
The LDP, on its own, may be able to gain a far larger number of seats than a simple majority, which is 233 seats. Komeito is expected to win 35 seats at best, the same number of seats it held before the chamber was dissolved for the election, and there is a high possibility it will not win that many.
In calling a snap election, Abe has set a goal of winning at least 233 seats for his ruling bloc. The ruling parties held a two-thirds majority in the lower house when it was dissolved in late September.
The Party of Hope will unlikely win as many as 100 seats, with many former Democratic Party members facing a tough battle in single-seat districts, the survey showed.
The Osaka-based Japan Innovation Party, which is cooperating with the Party of Hope in the election, is estimated to increase its seats, but not so many.
Meanwhile, the CDPJ, launched just about a week before the start of the official campaigning, seems to be gaining steam.
The party is expected to increase seats under the proportional representation system to around 20 from the initial nine. Including the seats it may win in the single-seat constituencies, the CDPJ may become the third-largest party after the LDP and the Party of Hope.
The Japanese Communist Party is likely to lose some of the 21 seats it held before the election was called. The Social Democratic Party is expected to retain its two seats.
The ultraconservative Party for Japanese Kokoro has fielded two candidates in the proportional representation blocks, but prospects are dim.
The survey, conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, covered 118,901 randomly selected households with eligible voters, of whom 90,261 provided valid answers.
Voters seemed relatively enthusiastic about the upcoming election, with 74.2 percent saying they are interested in the polls, up from 67.1 percent at the time of the previous lower house election in December 2014.