Japan Data

Abe’s Ruling Bloc Falls Short of Securing Two-Third Majority in Upper House Election


Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s ruling coalition won a majority of contested seats in the July 21 House of Councillors election, but fell short of the two-thirds majority it would need to revise the Constitution.

Turnout Drops Below 50%

The ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Abe Shinzō retained its majority in the upper house, garnering 71 of 124 contested seats in the July 21 House of Councillors election. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party won 57 seats and coalition partner Kōmeitō 14, bringing the ruling bloc’s total to 141 seats in the chamber.

However, Abe failed to secure the two-thirds majority needed to realize his long-held goal of revising the Constitution. Reformist parties like Nippon Ishin no Kai together with the coalition secured a total of 160 seats, four short of the 164-seat minimum necessary to propose revisions to the Constitution.

2019 House of Councillors Election Results

Seats won in 2019 election Electoral districts Proportional representation
Ruling coalition Liberal Democratic Party 57 38 19
Kōmeitō 14 7 7
Opposition parties Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan 17 9 8
Democratic Party for the People 6 3 3
Japanese Communist Party 7 3 4
Nippon Ishin no Kai 10 5 5
Social Democratic Party 1 0 1
Reiwa Shinsengumi 2 0 2
Party to Protect the People from NHK 1 0 1
Independents 9 9 0
Total 124 74 50

Voter turnout was the second lowest ever for a national election at 48.80%, dropping significantly from 54.70% seen during the last upper house election in 2016.

Opposition parties focused on issues like the Financial Services Agency statement that couples would need to save ¥20 million for after retirement, social welfare reforms, the consumption tax hike, and economic inequality, but were unable to win a groundswell of support. Although the LDP lost seats overall, it retained its majority, indicating continued confidence in Abe’s government.

Opposition Cooperation Limits LDP Gains in Single-Seat Districts

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Democratic Party for the People, Japan Communist Party, and Social Democratic Party cooperated to field only one joint opposition candidate in each of the single-member districts. The LDP ended up taking 22 of these districts while the opposition parties won 10. Although the opposition bloc achieved around the same success as 2016, when it won 11, results via this tactic appear to have hit their ceiling.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Prime Minister Abe Shinzō [second from left] affixes a rosette to the name of a winning candidate at LDP headquarters in Nagatachō, Tokyo, on July 21, 2019. © Jiji.)

LDP Abe Shinzō constitution House of Councillors