The Korea Herald


Turnout up on fierce campaigns, big names: experts

By Song Sangho

Published : April 27, 2011 - 23:09

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High voter turnout in the by-elections was a result of all-out campaigns by the parties, which had forecast the elections would be a prelude to the general and presidential elections in 2012, experts said Wednesday.

They also said the presence of political heavyweights in the races and big-name politicians extending their support for candidates got the attention of apathetic voters.

According to the National Election Commission, voter turnout was 39.4 percent as of 10 p.m., 6.6 percentage points higher than the average turnout for by-elections since 2000.

Voter participation was the third-highest since 2000 following by-election turnouts of 41.9 percent and 40.4 percent in 2001 and 2005, respectively.

“In a gubernatorial by-election in Gangwon Province, two former MBC presidents competed against each other, while in Bundang, the former leader of the ruling Grand National Party and the current chief of the main opposition Democratic Party were fighting over a parliamentary seat,” said Lee Chung-hee, politics professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

“The participation by such prominent personalities apparently boosted voter turnout this time. Also, each party has made all-out efforts as they clearly believed that the outcome of the by-elections will have a deep impact on the major elections slated for next year and voters knew how important a meaning by-elections bore.”

Among all electoral districts for the April 27 elections, Bundang saw the highest voter turnout, provisionally set at 49.1 percent -- higher than the 45.2 percent recorded in the 2008 parliamentary elections.

“I believe the reason why voter turnout in Bundang was high was that there are many people who had some grudges against the current government. They tried to seize this chance to voice their complaints (over government policies),” said Shin Yul, politics professor at Myongji University.

Experts also said some controversies over alleged electoral irregularities toward the end of the campaigns led many voters to cast their ballots and deliver their own judgment.