Japan′s PM Shinzo Abe counts on landslide victory in election | News | DW | 13.12.2014
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Japan's PM Shinzo Abe counts on landslide victory in election

Japan has gone to the polls to vote in the country's parliamentary election. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been tipped for a landslide victory.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reported to be counting on a landslide victory in Sunday's parliamentary election despite expected low voter turnout.

It's projected his ruling coalition could return to power with an even bigger majority, giving him the power to pursue an ambitious agenda of political and economic reforms.

With Japan's economy back in recession, the government's popularity ratings have dropped. Election campaign finance scandals have also affected Abe's Cabinet.

However, the prime minister is still the main candidate for the leadership because of Japan's leaning towards a one-party political system, historic voter apathy, and a lack of alternatives.

Abe confident as election campaign ends

Abe ended his election campaign in Tokyo's Akihabara electronics district with a display of confidence.

The prime minister raised his fist in the air as he made a final appeal for support.

"If we create a country where everyone is given a chance, Japan will grow much bigger," said Abe.

He also pointed the finger at the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) saying it was overly pessimistic about the country's declining population, a major factor behind Japan's sluggish economy.

Japan's Democrats, however, urged voters not to give a comfortable majority to Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

"One of the key issues is whether to allow the LDP to become a huge ruling party," DPJ politician Koichi Takemasa told members of the public outside Urawa Station in the Tokyo suburbs.

Voter apathy

Surveys showed many voters planned to steer clear of polling stations because of indifference to the choice of candidates and support for no party in particular.

However, these factors could see Abe's Liberal Democratic Party win by default.

The main opposition DPJ ruled from 2009 to 2012, but voter confidence was lost over its failure to deliver on campaign pledges.

The party also struggled to govern the country in the wake of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters.

The DPJ fielded candidates in around one-fifth of the 295 single seat districts.

Polls show it could take less than 100 seats in Sunday's election, including its winners in 180 proportional representation districts.

Surveys show voters have gone back to the conservative LDP party, which guided Japan through its accelerated growth during the 1960s and 1970s.

Big win on the cards

The Liberal Democratic Party is poised for a big win on Sunday.

Prime Minister Abe described the election as a referendum on his so-called "Abenomics" policies for boosting the economy through monetary easing and strong public spending.

Abe also proposed a portfolio of reforms to make Japan a strong market competitor once again.

He was the premier from 2006-2007, when he resigned due to health problems.

The 2012 election saw him return to power, but there was a record low voter turnout of around 59.3 percent.

Sunday's turnout is forecast to be even lower, but analysts say this could be an advantage to the LDP and its coalition partner New Komeito, as they had strong election campaigns.

lw/bw (AP, dpa)

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