Japan’s ruling coalition is projected to stay in power but the party of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is forecast to take a drubbing in an election on Sunday, public broadcaster NHK said, a blow that could mean politicalinstability in the world’s third-biggest economy.
It was too close to call whether Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) would maintain its majority in the lower house of parliament as a single party, according to exit polls, but its coalition with junior partner is forecast to maintain control.
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The LDP was expected to win between 212 to 255 seats, NHK said, with 233 needed for the majority.
The vote is a test for Kishida, who called the election soon after taking the top post early this month, and for his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has been battered by its perceived mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Already, Kishida has struggled to advance policies to help poorer people, while securing a big boost in military spending and taking a harder line on China.
“It’s hard to say the pandemic is completely snuffed out and society is stable, so we shouldn’t have any big changes in coronavirus policy,” said Naoki Okura, a doctor, after voting in Tokyo.
“Rather than demanding a change in government, I think we should demand continuity.”