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By-election campaigning begins

Outcome likely to be used as barometer of next year’s key elections


With the official campaign for the April 27 by-elections kicking off Thursday, parties are scurrying to survive what may be the prelude to next year’s parliamentary and presidential elections.

The ruling Grand National Party stresses its capacity as the ruling party to realize its pledges, whereas the main opposition Democratic Party demands that the present administration be judged for its failures.

The partisan clash is to be the most intense in the Bundang-B constituency in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, and Gimhae-B constituency in South Gyeongsang Province.

The National Election Commission previously designated these two areas as highly exposed to heated competition and consequently to slander and propaganda.

The GNP seems determined to make full use of its “star lawmakers,” such as Hong Joon-pyo and Na Kyung-won who showed in Bundang to participate in the electoral campaigns.

Their appearance was especially to give support to Kang Jae-sup, who is to compete with Sohn Hak-kyu of the DP, a major opposition figure whose name is familiar to the public.
Voters respond to a speech by a candidate for the April 27 parliamentary by-election in the Bundang constituency in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday. (Yonhap News)
Voters respond to a speech by a candidate for the April 27 parliamentary by-election in the Bundang constituency in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday. (Yonhap News)

As in Gimhae, the hometown of late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, the party has decided to promote Kim Tae-ho, a former governor in the region.

The ruling party also launched a counterattack on the opposition camp which set out to censure the current administration.

“The opposition parties no longer have a constant set of policies,” said GNP floor leader Kim Moo-sung.

“They do not seem to know what democracy is about, as they would unite with any other party regardless of their policies.”

By this, Kim referred to former DP leader Sohn who moved his residency to Bundang in order to enter candidacy there and also to the unification of opposition parties in Gimhae.

In Gangwon Province, Ohm Ki-young of the GNP and Choi Moon-soon of the DP, both former heads of the broadcaster MBC, confronted each other in a regional television round-table talk.

Opposition parties also held a joint election kick-off ceremony Thursday, resolving to win and pledging to cooperate.

DP leader and former Gyeonggi Governor Sohn Hak-kyu pledged to bring the aspired changes to the country, starting with the middle class in Bundang.

“I sense that the democratic citizens of Bundang now want changes in the social and political realities,” Sohn told reporters.

“This is not just about an extra parliamentary seat for our party but about proving that this country may change.”

In Gimhae, Lee Bong-soo of the minority People’s Participation Party, who was selected as the sole candidate to represent the opposition parties, geared up to win the support of liberal voters in the region.

A total of 135 candidates registered themselves to run in 38 constituencies nationwide.

The average competition rate for the April 27 by-elections is 3.6 to one, according to the NEC.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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