The Korea Herald


Parties gear up for another election

Political parties prepare nominations as key events lie ahead to affect voter sentiment

By Ko Jun-tae

Published : March 23, 2022 - 13:30

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An official with the National Election Commission changes a sign made at the election watchdog`s office in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, to mark that 70 days remain until the local elections in June.(Yonhap) An official with the National Election Commission changes a sign made at the election watchdog`s office in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, to mark that 70 days remain until the local elections in June.(Yonhap)
South Korea's political parties are set to launch nomination committees for the June local elections, returning to full election mode as early as next week.

The liberal Democratic Party of Korea plans to set up an internal committee on managing nominations by Friday, a day after the party elects a new floor leader to succeed Rep. Yun Ho-jung, who now stands as a leader of the emergency steering committee for the liberal party.

The internal committee, to be comprised of 20 appointees, will be tasked with managing where to hold primaries and who to lock in for nomination in areas without much competition. Candidates and schedules for primaries are scheduled to be finalized by mid-April, party officials said.

How the committee will be composed explicitly shows the focus of the Democratic Party in approaching the June elections. Yun told the press earlier that at least half of the 20-member committee will be women, while 10 percent will be in their 30s or below and 30 percent will be appointees from outside the party.

The party looks to show through the committee appointment that it is a political faction that values diversity and inclusion. This is an effort to differentiate itself from the conservative People Power Party, which has emphasized to focus on competence and ability, rather than balanced representation, in making nominations.

The People Power Party has already appointed some of its core members to leadership positions within its internal nomination committee, and the party is planning to appoint 11 members to join the committee by Thursday.

Nine of the members will be from the People Power Party and the rest will be from the minor centrist People’s Party, which is negotiating a merger with the conservative party as promised under the candidacy merger deal during the latest presidential race.

In emphasizing its vow to value those with skills and talent over other traits, the People Power Party is bringing in its self-made aptitude test on political and legal knowledge to test those seeking to bear the party’s flag as proportional representatives in the June elections.

Those wanting to run as proportional representatives on the municipal level will need to score in the top 35 percent, and those aiming for metropolitan or gubernatorial levels need scores within the top 10 percent.

And as parties prepare to unveil their lineups and pick figures to run, a number of events expected to occur in the future could sway voters favorably to either faction, and the fact that the new president is inaugurated less than a month before the election can have huge political implications.

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s vow to fully open the Cheong Wa Dae compound to the people when relocating the presidential office, if fulfilled before the election, could have a positive influence on the People Power Party’s fortunes.

The party would successfully convey an image of a political faction that keeps its promises made to voters and successfully differentiate itself from the Moon Jae-in administration and the Democratic Party, which was often criticized for failing to fulfill its pledges.

Some even analyzed that opening of the Cheong Wa Dae compound to the public as a free cultural venue would also raise the People Power Party’s appeal as a whole, helping it raise the appeal from voters, especially those in Seoul and surrounding areas.

The People Power Party could also see additional boost in voter support if Yoon successfully pushes for a supplementary budget as announced Tuesday. Yoon and his presidential transition committee are looking to pass a 50-trillion-won supplementary budget to aid small business owners burdened by COVID-19 pandemic.

But the conservative party has almost no influence in the legislative branch dominated by the Democratic Party. And it is unclear how the state can put together another supplementary budget after already distributing 16.9 trillion won for the same purpose in February.

Experts have widely predicted the People Power Party will achieve a sweeping victory in the local elections, as they maintain that whichever party wins he presidential election is likely to extend its winning streak.

Yet a chance remains for the Democratic Party to still stage a successful comeback, mainly by raising its appeal to voters as a party that follows up on its promises. It will be pressured to successfully bring political reforms its legislators vowed to pursue just before the presidential election.

Its legislators announced then that the party will work to pass a bill to prohibit the launch of satellite parties, bring a runoff election system and change the current single five-year term limit for the presidency to a two four-year term limit like the United States.

Not all of the promises outlined in the announcement will be feasible to, but merely making progress and showing voters sincerity in its promises could help the Democratic Party make a dent in the local elections widely expected to end in a landslide win for the People Power Party.