With the South Korean presidential election fast approaching, the country’s National Election Commission is hastening its preparations for the March 9 vote amid a surge in daily Covid-19 infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
According to the NEC, political parties’ presidential candidates have to formally register on February 13 and 14, reports Yonhap News Agency.
The candidates’ official 22-day campaign period is set to kick off on February 15.
Three rounds of TV debate among candidates have been scheduled during the official campaign period.
Starting from Monday, gatherings of political party members will be banned under an election law.
Overseas Korean citizens who are registered as absentee voters will cast their votes on February 23-28.
Sailors will cast their votes aboard their ships from March 1-4.
Advance voting will take place from March 4-5.
It is not the first South Korean election to be held during the pandemic, but the upcoming vote comes as the nation grapples with a surge in daily Covid-19 cases.
The NEC has said it is looking for solutions that allow people who have contracted the virus after the early voting period to cast their ballots in the March election.
Meanwhile, Yoon Suk-yeol, the presidential nominee of the main opposition People Power Party, is still neck and neck with ruling Democratic Party candidate Lee Jae-myung, two surveys revealed on Sunday.
According to a survey by the Korea Society Opinion Institute (KSOI), Yoon is leading Lee with 37.2 per cent support against 35.1 per cent.
Another survey conducted by Realmeter, showed that Yoon is leading Lee with 43.3 per cent support against 41.8 per cent.
Ahn Cheol-soo, the presidential candidate of the minor opposition People’s Party, came third in both the surveys.