Japan PM Shinzo Abe on track for hefty election win: polls

TOKYO Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:26am IST

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gestures as he delivers a speech at a seminar in Tokyo June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Files

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gestures as he delivers a speech at a seminar in Tokyo June 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai/Files

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc remains on track for a big win in Sunday's upper house election, final surveys before the vote showed on Monday, a victory that would likely help end six years of parliamentary deadlock.

The surveys showed support for Abe's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) far outstrips other parties, buoyed by hopes that his hyper-easy monetary policy, public spending and structural reform will bolster growth and jolt Japan out of years of stagnation.

Voter preference polls taken on Saturday and Sunday and published by the Asahi and Mainichi dailies showed that 37 to 43 percent of voters wanted to vote for the LDP. Such support meant that, along with coalition partner the New Komeito, the LDP would likely win a majority in the upper house.

It would also spell an end to the "twisted parliament" in which the opposition controls the upper house, hampering policy implementation, even if Abe's commitment to growth-generating and potentially painful reforms such as deregulation remains in doubt.

Monday's surveys showed 8 percent of respondents wanted to vote for the New Komeito, ahead of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) with 7 percent. Around a third of those surveyed did not support any party, and voter turn-out was expected to be low.

Japan has suffered parliamentary gridlock ever since Abe led the LDP to a massive defeat in a 2007 upper house vote. He quit abruptly two months later due to the deadlock, plummeting support and ill health.

The DPJ faced a similar headache after sweeping to power in 2009, only to lose a 2010 upper house election.

The hawkish Abe, 58, returned to power in December for a rare second term after the LDP-led bloc handsomely won a December election for parliament's powerful lower house. The coalition, however, has since lacked a majority in the upper chamber, which can block legislation.

(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Paul Tait)

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