The ruling Democratic Party is expected to win a landslide victory in the local elections and parliamentary by-elections held on Wednesday.
As of midnight on Wednesday, with about 40 percent of the votes counted, DP candidates are leading in 13 out of 17 major mayoral and gubernatorial races while the main opposition Liberty Korea Party candidates are certain to win only in Daegu City and North Gyeongsang Province.
In Seoul, incumbent Mayor Park Won-soon of the DP is certain to clinch a third-term, beating the LKP contender Kim Moon-soo by a wide margin.
In the Gyeonggi Province gubernatorial race, the DP's Lee Jae-myung is also certain to defeat the LKP's contender Nam Kyung-pil, despite a controversy over an allegation of his extra marital affairs with an actress.
In South Gyeongsang Province, the race is too close to call with the ruling DP’s Kim Kyoung-soo and the LKP’s Kim Tae-ho, former governor of the conservative stronghold, exchanging the lead in a cliffhanger seesaw.
In the Jeju Special Self-governing Province, independent Won Hee-ryong is certain to win over the DP's Moon Dae-rim.
In parliamentary by-elections held on the same day, the ruling DP is also expected to sweep at least ten seats out of 12 up for grabs with the LKP winning only one seat in Gimcheon, North Gyeognsang Province.
DP candidates Choi Jae-seong in Seoul's Songpa B district and Kim Sung-hwan in Nowon C district, are leading their rivals by substantial margins.
The race in Jecheon and Danyang is close between Lee Hoo-sam of the DP and Uhm Tae-young of the LKP.
In the elections to choose the nation’s new chief education administrators, liberal candidates are expected to win in 13 out of 17 cities and provinces, including in Seoul where incumbent superintendent Cho Hee-yeon is certain to win by defeating Park Sun-young.
The contests are much tighter between the liberal and conservative contenders in Daegu, North Gyeongsang Province, Gwangju and Daejeon.
According to exit polls conducted by South Korea's three major terrestrial broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS, the ruling DP was projected to win 14 out of 17 major mayoral and gubernatorial races while the main opposition LKP was expected to win two.
Meanwhile, voter turnout for Wednesday's local elections is tallied at a tentative 60-point-two percent, the second highest for local elections in South Korea.
The National Election Commission announced that a total of 25-point-eight million out of 42-point-nine million eligible voters cast ballots in the provincial elections held from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. across the nation.
The election watchdog said the voter turnout is three-point-four percentage points higher than the 2014 local elections.
It's the first time in 23 years that voter turnout has exceeded 60 percent since the first local elections in 1995 when the figure was 68-point-four percent.
[Photo : YONHAP News]