THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
November 1, 2021 at 14:41 JST
The strategy of opposition parties to throw their support behind single candidates in the Lower House election had a success rate of just 29 percent in single-seat constituencies.
Five opposition parties—the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP), the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), the Democratic Party for the People (DPP), Reiwa Shinsengumi and the Social Democratic Party—fielded a unified candidate in 217, or 75 percent, of all 289 electoral districts.
Only 62 unified candidates, including independents related to the opposition parties, won the seats.
Although that total was an increase from the previously held 51 seats, it was a disappointment for the opposition bloc and nowhere near enough to defeat the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito.
The opposition bloc’s failure also stems largely from a poor showing in the proportional representation part of the election, in which voters choose a party, not a candidate.
The CDP and the DPP earned about 14 million votes combined in that segment. In the previous 2017 Lower House election, the CDP and the Party of Hope, a predecessor of the DPP, gained about 20 million votes combined.
The JCP also gained fewer proportional representation votes on Oct. 31, contributing to the slumping results of the opposition bloc.
The opposition alliance was formed based on a dismal experience in the 2017 election. The opposition side, even the parties, were fractured and fielded multiple candidates, thereby splitting the vote.
Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) did not join the opposition bloc in the latest election and fielded its candidates.
As a result, only 145 electoral districts were one-on-one battles between the ruling coalition and the unified opposition parties.
In these electoral districts, 40 unified opposition candidates, or 28 percent, won.
In 72 electoral districts where ruling coalition, unified opposition and Ishin candidates engaged in three-way battles, Ishin triumphed in 10 of them, especially in its home base of Osaka Prefecture.
Only 22 unified opposition candidates, or 31 percent, won in these districts.
In 72 districts where opposition parties did not run a unified candidate and the race became a close contest, only six candidates representing any of the five opposition parties, or 8 percent, won.
Unified candidates may have made no real difference. In only six of the 72 districts, the accumulated votes cast for candidates representing the five opposition parties as well as opposition-related independents exceeded the total for the candidate of the ruling coalition.
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