Election Day has come

Apr 07, 2021, 09:06 am

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(L) DP candidate Park Young-sun (photographed by Song Eui-joo ) and PPP candidate Oh Se-hoon (photographed by Lee Byung-hwa)

AsiaToday reporter Lee Jang-won

The April 7 by-elections are held today. The by-elections to pick the new mayors of Seoul and Busan are expected to be a key barometer of voter sentiment ahead of next year’s presidential election. Voting for the two mayoral seats and 19 other regional public posts is set to begin at 6 a.m. and last till 8 p.m. on Wednesday at 3,459 polling stations across the country in the elections.

The elections in Seoul and Busan, which are being conducted because of alleged sexual harassment by former mayors, have been recognized as a battle between those who want to pass a judgment on the Moon Jae-in government and those who want to maintain the incumbent administration’s stable management of state affairs. Besides, the real estate issue was a hot potato of the battle after land and real estate speculation scandal involving public officials emerged. The main opposition People Power Party (PPP) used the incident to highlight the government’s policy failure to curb real estate prices, while the ruling Democratic Party (DP) focused on competitiveness of its candidates to make appeals to voters.

On the eve of the by-elections, rival parties scrambled to make final appeals to voters in Seoul and Busan. While opposition candidates were widely seen as having the upper hand over their rivals from the ruling party in latest opinion polls, the result of the election remains to be seen. The ruling DP said, “It would eventually be a nerve-racking battle of 1 percent.” However, the PPP said, “There is no special variables left.”

In Seoul, DP candidate Park Young-sun and PPP candidate Oh Se-hoon crisscrossed the capital in last-minute efforts to win voters Tuesday. Park raised suspicions over a piece of land owned by Oh’s in-laws, saying, “Please stop him from making a world where lies repress the truth.” Oh urged the public to judge the incumbent administration and the ruling party. In Busan, Kim Young-choon of the ruling DP and Park Hyung-joon of the PPP rallied support until the last day of the campaign period.

The final turnout is a key variable that would determine victory in this election. As the turnout rate for the two-day early voting reached 20.54 percent, observers predict that the final turnout could exceed 50%. While both of the parties claim that the record-high early voter turnout is a positive sign in their favor, observers say it is hard to predict the result. While voters in their fifties hold the casting vote, it seems that young voters in their twenties are also expected to play a significant role. 

Confident of victory, both parties urged voters to cast their ballots. “The public sentiment is changing. It has completely changed since last weekend,” said Rep. Lee Nak-yon, the DP’s election committee chairman. “The People Power Party will win,” said the PPP chief Kim Chong-in. 

Rough results of the elections are expected to start emerging around midnight Wednesday.

#April 7 #by-election #Seoul mayor #Busan #Park Young-sun 
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