Political parties are vying for victory as campaigning for the June 13th local elections and parliamentary by-elections officially kicked off Thursday.
The upcoming elections mark the first nationwide election under the Moon Jae-in administration and are thus regarded as the public’s midterm report card on the government’s performance so far. Meanwhile, the parliamentary by-elections, in which 12 lawmakers will be newly elected, are viewed as a “mini general election.”
Over 4,000 public officials will be elected, including 17 chiefs of provinces and metropolitan areas, 17 superintendents of education, over 200 heads of smaller administrative units and over 800 members of provincial and metropolitan councils.
For the first time, parliamentary by-elections are held on the same day as the local elections, and the 12 contested areas are dispersed across the country.
During the campaign period, which runs until midnight of June 12th, candidates can send out pamphlets through the mail, put up posters on walls, hold debates and use vehicles for electioneering, and also wear bands and name tags.
Speeches and forums are allowed at public places from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Voters can also campaign for the parties or candidates they support. They can post and share information, photos or news articles about their favorite parties and candidates on the Internet or via e-mail, mobile messaging services and social media.
Based on its lead in recent polls, the ruling Democratic Party aims to win more than nine of the 17 gubernatorial and mayoral races, and seven out of the 12 parliament seats.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party(LKP) is aiming to win in four areas outside of its traditional heartland of the Gyeongsang provinces.
The LKP will appeal to voters to give them the power to check the Moon administration.
The minor conservative Bareunmirae Party is seeking to establish itself as a reformative, moderate party by winning a substantial number of votes in Seoul and Daegu, while the Party for Democracy and Peace vies to win more than half of smaller administrative posts up for grabs in the Jeolla provinces.
The Justice Party hopes to finish in second place in party approval ratings in the wider capital region.
Based on President Moon’s high approval rating and the recent peace momentum following inter-Korean summit talks, the ruling party holds a great advantage going into the elections. However, the government is not generating noticeable effects when it comes to jobs and the economy.
Meanwhile, the opposition is trying to underscore economic issues to highlight “poor governance” but whether this strategy will be effective is unclear.
High public support can also be a burden on the governing party because anything short of a sweeping victory in the elections can bring about political pressure.