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Share of votes won by political parties in Japan's 11 proportional representation blocs
Politics

Japan's general election in four charts

How Abe's coalition achieved fifth straight win in national elections

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's landslide victory in Sunday's general election has extended the ruling camp's winning streak to five national elections in as many years. In the latest election, the ruling coalition maintained a super majority -- two-third of parliamentary seats -- in the more powerful lower house.

This has happened even as Abe himself has seen his approval ratings fall in recent polls. Here are four charts that explain how the coalition managed to cling on to power.

Seat distribution

Before the election, the coalition between Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner Komeito had 69% of the 475 seats. After the election, in which the number of seats was reduced to 465, the coalition has largely kept its lead intact, with a 67% share.

The ruling camp is able to sustain such strength because its opposition is fragmented. The biggest opposition before the election, the Democratic Party, was split into two groups -- the Constitutional Democratic Party and the Party of Hope. As these two parties fought each other, the LDP focused its energy on staying just ahead of any rival in single-seat constituencies.

Small district favors LDP

A general election is fought in two formats. About 60% of the seats are decided in single-member district elections, with the remainder decided on a proportional representation basis. The LDP and its coalition partner Komeito typically collect around 40% of the votes between them. That means the opposition -- CDP, Hope and the Japanese Communist Party -- has little chance of winning single-seat districts unless they are united.

City vs countryside

The chart at the top of the page shows the share of votes won by five main political parties in Japan's 11 proportional representation blocs. The conservative LDP has its stronghold in rural regions (e.g., Hokuriku) and in the economically buoyant south (e.g., Chugoku). The challenge for them is how to gain ground in urban regions (e.g., Tokyo, Kinki, Tokai). In the last election, the party did reasonably well in big cities.

Low turnout helps ruling camp

There is something of a negative correlation between voter turnout and the number of seats the coalition wins. The LDP and the Komeito tend to do better even in a low turnout election because they have a very strong core support base, while the opposition does better when unaffiliated voters turn up. The latest election saw the second lowest turnout in post-war history, due partly to a typhoon, giving an additional tailwind to the coalition parties.

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