S.Koreans to vote in local polls, parliamentary by-elections

South Koreans will vote this week in local elections and parliamentary by-elections amid expectations that the results will boost or weaken the mandate of the new government of President Yoon Suk-yeol.

Up for grabs in Wednesday’s elections are 17 metropolitan mayors and provincial governors, 226 lower-level council heads, as well as 779 seats in provincial and metropolitan councils, and 2,602 in lower-level local councils, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Also at stake will be seven National Assembly seats in the parliamentary by-elections.

Voting will kick off at 6 a.m. and run until 6 p.m. Wednesday at 14,465 polling centres nationwide, according to the National Election Commission (NEC).

Covid-19 patients and those in quarantine will be allowed to vote between 6.30 p.m. and 7.30 p.m.

Eligible voters total 44.3 million, but 9.13 million of them already cast their ballots during the two-day early voting last week.

Turnout of the advance voting came to 20.62 per cent, the highest for any local elections, the NEC said.

It expects final turnout for Wednesday’s elections to surpass 60.2 per cent logged in the 2018 local elections.

The elections come less than a month after Yoon took office.

Recent polls showed the People Power Party (PPP) taking leads in most big races, except those in the southwestern Honam region, the home turf of the Democratic Party (DP).

The PPP hopes it can extend the momentum of the presidential election victory and aims to win more than half of 17 gubernatorial and mayor posts.

The DP, which controls a majority in the National Assembly, is looking to recover from the March 9 presidential election defeat and expand its power.

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