Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s coalition cruised to a big election win, ensuring he will stick to reflationary economic policies and a muscular security stance, but record low turnout pointed to broad dissatisfaction with his performance.
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior partner, the Komeito party, won 326 seats in Sunday’s election, more than the 317 seats in the 475-member lower house required to maintain a two-thirds “super-majority” that smoothes parliamentary business.
Many voters, doubtful of both the premier’s “Abenomics” strategy to end deflation and generate growth and the opposition’s ability to do any better, had stayed at home.
Turnout was estimated to be a record low of 53.3 percent, substantially below the 59.3 percent in a 2012 poll that returned Abe to power for a rare second term on pledges to reboot an economy plagued by deflation and an ageing, shrinking population.
However, doubts persist over whether Abe will knuckle down on his “Third Arrow” of reforms in politically sensitive areas such as labour market deregulation and an overhaul of the highly protected farm sector.