A fledgling conservative party led by popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is gaining traction in its challenge to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc in a general election next month, two media polls released on Thursday showed.
A survey by the Mainichi newspaper showed 18% of voters plan to vote for Koike’s Party of Hope compared to 29% for Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
An Asahi newspaper poll showed 13% planned to vote for Koike’s party versus 32% for the LDP. Both surveys asked voters their preference for proportional representation districts where ballots are cast for parties rather than specific candidates.
The polls come ahead of Thursday’s dissolution of parliament’s lower house for an election expected on Oct. 22.
Koike’s new party was only formally launched on Wednesday and has upended the outlook for the election after Koike announced this week she would lead it herself.
Japan’s main opposition Democratic Party now looks in danger of being absorbed by the Party of Hope.
Abe, who took office in December 2012, is calling the election in the hope of keeping his LDP-led coalition’s majority in the lower house, where it now has a two-thirds “super majority”.