Spread the love

Legislative elections in South Korea: President Yoon put to the test at the polls

South Korea's President, Yoon Suk Yeol, faces a tough call on Wednesday. the test of the ballot box during legislative elections considered as a mid-term referendum for his conservative program , &agrav; the continuation of a campaign which eluded many real problems of the country.

Mr. Yoon and his main opponent, Lee Jae-myung, of the Democratic Party (center-left), seriously injured three months ago in a knife attack, engaged in a battle of ragpickers during the campaign which could give a a boost to a nascent anti-system party, and further put off young voters in this country of 51 million inhabitants.

Mr. Yoon narrowly defeated Mr. Lee in the 2022 presidential election. He has since pursued a firm policy towards North Korea while strengthening his country's alliance with the United States and moving closer to Japan, a former colonial power with which there are numerous historical quarrels.

But Lee Jae-myung, mired in a series of corruption investigations that he believes are politically motivated, is now seeking revenge, hoping to strengthen the parliamentary majority of his Democratic Party (DP), which could allow him to to dismiss Mr. Yoon.

Legislative elections in South Korea: President Yoon put to the test at the polls

Han Dong-hoon (l), leader of the People's Power Party (PPP), greets his supporters on the eve of the legislative vote on April 9, 2024 in Seoul, South Korea © AFP – Anthony WALLACE

“Please give us a minimum number of seats that we can use to keep this immoral and shameless opposition in check,” said Han Dong-hoon, head of Mr. Yoon, on the eve of the election.

For his part, Mr. Lee called for “voting to prevent the political force that betrayed the people from obtaining a majority parliamentary”.

Legislative elections in South Korea: President Yoon put to the test at the polls

Supporters of President Yoon Suk Yeol's People Power Party (PPP) during a campaign rally in Seoul, April 8, 2024 in South Korea © AFP – ANTHONY WALLACE

Since the start of his presidency, Yoon Suk Yeol's popularity has never taken off, often remaining around 30%, and his lack of a parliamentary majority has hampered his socially conservative political agenda.

“I hope that the next Parliament will give priority to people's lives,” Kim Sung-ju, 61, who is campaigning for the improvement of the health system.

– Demographic decline –

The demographic evolution of South Korea plays a role however in favor of Mr. Yoon, older voters – considered more conservative – now being more numerous than young people.

“Voters over 60 represent a formidable and solidly conservative base for Mr. Yoon,” Sharon Yoon, professor of Korean studies at the University of Notre Dame, told AFP.

Legislative elections in South Korea: President Yoon put to the test at the polls

Lee Jae-myung, leader of the main opposition party, the Democratic Party, during a campaign rally in Seoul, April 9, 2024 © AFP – Jung Yeon-je

The abstention rate promises to be massive among young people, many of whom say they are discouraged by a political class dominated by elderly men who ignore their concerns such as the cost of housing or the precariousness of life. 'employment.

Many believe that this failing was blatantly highlighted during the tragic Halloween stampede in Seoul in October 2022 which left more than 150 dead , mainly young people. The tragedy was attributed to a cascade of negligence on the part of the authorities.

“The people around me are much less interested in these elections than last time. I think it's because they feel rather disappointed,” notes Kim Yong-ho, 24, a business owner. outside a polling station in Gwangjin District, Seoul.

The tone of the campaign also turned off many voters. Substantive political debate has been nonexistent, replaced by calls to “jail” Mr. Lee or “punish” Mr. Yoon, hate speech and online misinformation that experts fear could lead to further attacks. physical injuries like the one Mr. Lee suffered in January.

“I am truly ashamed of the politics and government of our country”, breathes Kim Do-kyung , 47 years old, activist for migrant women and their children.

– Lame duck or dead duck –

A new party, the Rebuild Korea Party, has recently seen a surge in the polls, capitalizing on discontent with both the government and the opposition.

It is led by a former Minister of Justice, Cho Kuk, sentenced to two years in prison for having falsified documents in order to facilitate his children's access to prestigious universities. He appealed the judgment.

Legislative elections in South Korea: President Yoon put to the test at the polls

Former Justice Minister and leader of the Rebuild Korea Party, Cho Kuk, during a campaign rally in Seoul, March 28, 2024 © AFP – Anthony WALLACE

The program of his anti-system party is very meager, but the polls put it neck and neck with Mr. Yoon's People Power Party (PPP). Enough to transform him into a kingmaker in Parliament.

“I will make President Yoon a lame duck, then a dead duck,” Mr. Cho boasted from AFP.

Polling stations opened at 6:00 a.m. (9:00 p.m. GMT Tuesday) and will close at 6:00 p.m. (9:00 a.m. GMT). The results are expected during the night from Wednesday to Thursday.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116