May. 29. 2022
Ruling party ahead of main opposition in pre-local elections surveys
|Incumbent Seoul mayor Oh Se-hoon, second from right, who is seeking reelection on the People Power Party’s ticket, takes a picture with his supporters after canvassing at Seoul Forest in the city’s Seongdong District, Saturday. Yonhap|
Polls find PPP candidates leading comfortably in 9 elections, DPK 4, and remaining 4 are battlegrounds
By Ko Dong-hwan
With only a few days remaining until the country’s local elections which are to be held June 1, less than a month after President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol was inaugurated on May 10, the conservative ruling People Power Party (PPP) is ahead of the The main opposition party, according to public opinion surveys.
It remains uncertain whether that trend will be continued until Wednesday when voters will elect mayors, governors, city council members and education superintendents. On the same day, voters in some regions will also select eight National Assembly lawmakers in by-elections.
The PPP candidates are leading in nine elections out of 17 to select mayors and governors of metropolitan cities and provinces, whereas the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) candidates are leading in four elections. Candidates of the two parties were competing within a margin of error in the remaining four elections, according to recent surveys conducted by Ipsos, Korea Research and Hankook Research on May 23 to 25. More details of the survey can be found on the website of the National Election Commission.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, who is running for reelection on the PPP ticket, is ahead of DPK candidate Song Young-gil with a double-digit margin. Oh’s rate stood at 54 percent, whereas support for DPK’s Song was 31 percent.
The highest support ratings for PPP candidates came from the most conservative-friendly regions in the country: Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province. Hong Joon-pyo, who unsuccessfully ran in the 2017 presidential election, is expected to grab a comfortable win in Daegu’s mayoral election, if last week’s support trend continues until Election Day. His rate marked 64 percent, over 40 percent ahead of the DPK’s Seo Jae-heon who had 12 percent.
Lee Chul-woo, the incumbent governor of North Gyeongsang Province who is seeking reelection on the PPP’s ticket, is leading in popularity with 61 percent, ahead of the DPK’s Lim Mi-ae whose rate was 15 percent in the surveys.
The ruling party is also outpacing the DPK in remaining conservative strongholds South Gyeongsang Province (53 to 21), Busan (52 to 26) and Ulsan (43 to 27). In regions largely considered centrist, the PPP candidates dominate the DPK as well like North Chungcheong Province (43 to 30), South Chungcheong Province (44 to 35) and Gangwon Province (45 to 34).
The DPK, on the other hand, is dominating the PPP in just four gubernatorial elections, including three that have remained liberal strongholds. DPK’s Kang Gi-jung, running Gwangju may, was supported by 56 percent of or had just for while PPP contender Joo Ki-hwan 9 percent. Provincial governor elections in North and South Jeolla Provinces also showed comfortable leads for the DPK candidates. Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, which has been considered a politically neutral ground, gave more support for the DPK candidate than the PPP candidate in the surveys.
|People Power Party Gyeonggi Province governor candidate Kim Eun-hye, left, and her opponent Kim Dong-yeon of the Democratic Party of Korea cast their ballots at polling stations in Suwon and Seongnam, respectively, on May 27 during the early voting period for the local elections. Joint Press Corps.|
Gyeonggi Province, one of the four electoral constituencies where surveys show candidates clashing within the closest margin of error, is considered the cherry-on-top battleground in the local elections with the biggest number of eligible voters (11.5 million). Which party will win the provincial governor’s seat remains one of the biggest questions in this election.
The PPP’s Kim Eun-hye, a former TV news reporter who served as a spokesperson for Yoon Suk-yeol when he was president-elect, recorded 38 percent in the surveys for the Gyeonggi gubernatorial election. The DPK’s Kim Dong-yeon, the former economy minister under the Moon Jae-in administration who had forfeited his candidacy in the latest presidential election to unite with the party’s frontrunner candidate Lee Jae-myung, closely outpaced his contender in the gubernatorial election with 39 percent.
Candidates for mayoral elections in Daejeon (DPK 40 to PPP 36), Sejong Special Self-Governing City (DPK 39 to PPP 40) and Incheon (DPK 36 to PPP 40) all competed within the margin of error.
Observers say the results of local elections are especially hard to forecast based on public opinion ratings because samplings for vary greatly depending on surveyors and survey results often don’t match poll results. The DPK, for that matter, is betting on surprise wins in constituency surveys have shown having more PPP supporters.
If the PPP grabs victories in 10 or more mayoral and governorship elections, leverage from the country’s local governments will be more smoothly pipelined to the ruling party and Yoon who represented the party in the presidential election. It would be a reversal from the 2018 local elections when the DPK candidates dominated the PPP’s predecessor Liberty Korea Party.
If the DPK, against the odds from the surveys’ forecasts, makes surprise victories in a majority of the constituencies, the main opposition party, already having a majority of seats in the National Assembly (163 out of 300), will be able to shape a bigger countering force against President Yoon and the ruling party.
In the early voting period during May 27 and 28, 20.6 percent of eligible voters in the country (9.13 million out of 44.3 million) cast their ballots. The turnout beat that of the last local elections in 2018 (20.1%) and the one before in 2014 (11 percent).