Japan's summer three years ago was alive with political hope. The long-running rule of the scandal-plagued Liberal Democratic Party was over and new parties, new leaders and new dreams abounded. In July 1993, Japan's voters had opted for change. Four governments later, Japan's 98 million potential voters finally get to have their say on their politicians' performance in October 20 general elections, the first since 1993. And the news is not good. Disillusionment with politicians is rampant and Japan's prospective leaders do little to help. 'At election time Japan's politicians try to be everything to everyone. After the election they completely ignore us,' says Hideyuki Tanaka, a businessman. 'They are so insincere it makes me ill.' Promise-packed campaign platforms, glossy posters and baby-kissing mark every Japanese election campaign and this one is no different. But what the people are looking for may well be something entirely different, explains Masako Matsumoto, a housewife. 'I need to feel these politicians are really trying to solve problems my neighbours and I care about. But it's all promises, promises and money scandals.' Doubts are growing whether more than half Japan's eligible voters will even bother to cast their vote, and a complicated new electoral system is compounding the problem. Many voters are in new electoral districts, and they must now vote twice, once for a single representative and once for a political party. The second vote determines the result for 200 proportional-representation seats in the 500-seat lower house. Polls show more than half the electorate still does not understand the new system. Most pundits predict neither of the two major parties, the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Frontier Party, will win a majority and one or the other will be forced into a coalition.