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South Koreans elect lawmakers in crucial vote for President Yoon

Photo: Anthony Wallace Agence France-Presse South Korean voters fill out their ballots at a polling station in Seoul on Wednesday, April 10.

Kang Jin-kyu – Agence France-Presse in Seoul

8:09 p.m.

  • Asia

South Koreans began voting early Wednesday to renew their parliament, a vote that also serves as a referendum for or against President Yoon Suk Yeol and his conservative agenda, after a polarized and hateful election campaign .

The Democratic Party (center left) of Lee Jae-myung, the president's great rival and who was seriously injured three months ago in a knife attack, could if we are to believe the polls increase its majority in the National Assembly, a unicameral parliament of 300 members elected for four years.

Polling stations opened at 6 a.m. local time and will close at 6 p.m., AFP journalists noted.

In a polling station in Gwangjin district, a district of Seoul, voters waited patiently in line on Wednesday morning to show their identity documents, receive their ballots, before going to vote in the voting booths.

The results are expected during the night from Wednesday to Thursday.

Mr. Yoon narrowly defeated Mr. Lee in the 2022 presidential election. He has since pursued a tough 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 the president's approval rating never took off, often remaining around 30 percent, and his lack of a parliamentary majority hampered his socially conservative political agenda.

Its unpopularity is due to “the lack of real progress on domestic political and economic issues,” Andrew Yeo, a political scientist at the Catholic University of America, told AFP.

“Prices and inflation remain high, housing is expensive and political polarization remains high,” continues this researcher.


The demographic evolution of South Korea, a country of 51 million inhabitants, however, works in Mr. Yoon's favor: voters aged 60 and over, considered more conservative, are more numerous than those aged a twenty or thirty years old.

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 job.

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

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.

His anti-system party's program is very thin, but 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 to AFP.

Lee Jae-myung is the subject of numerous legal investigations, notably for a corruption case linked to a company suspected of having illegally transferred eight million dollars to North Korea. He denies all the accusations.

As for President Yoon, he is embroiled in a controversy regarding his wife, Kim Keon Hee.

South Korea's first lady was tricked by a left-wing pastor who filmed her on a hidden camera while giving her a luxury Dior handbag, violating rules banning political leaders and their spouses from receiving gifts. gifts worth more than $750.

Polls cited by the Yonhap news agency suggest that the score of all opposition parties combined could reach or exceed 200 seats. A two-thirds “super-majority” that would allow them to thwart the president's veto, or even remove him.

South Koreans had the opportunity to vote early on Friday and Saturday, which 13.8 million out of 44.2 million voters, including President Yoon, chose to do.< /p>

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