Candidate registration begins for June 13 local elections

SEOUL, Candidate registration began Thursday for the June 13 local elections, which are widely seen as a barometer for liberal President Moon Jae-in's first year in office.

At stake are 17 chiefs of provinces and metropolises, 226 chiefs of smaller administrative units, 824 seats of provincial and metropolitan assemblies, 2.927 lower-level local councilors and 17 superintendents of education.

Parliamentary by-elections will also be conducted in 12 districts nationwide. It will be the first time that local polls will be held together with parliamentary by-elections.

The National Election Commission (NEC) will receive candidacy registration for two days.

Candidates can begin their official campaign activities next Thursday, according to the state election watchdog.

Before the official electioneering period, their campaigning was allowed only in a limited manner, such as distributing business cards and establishing election offices.

But starting next Thursday, candidates can stage street campaigning, put up election posters and send campaign materials to voters in their constituencies. Their electioneering will last until one day before the election.

South Korean nationals aged 19 and above are eligible to elect as many as seven officials per voter, including mayors, district office chiefs and local council members.

Voters can cast their ballots during early voting that falls on June 8-9. The ballots will be kept by the NEC until vote counting officially begins after the elections.

The National Assembly recently accepted the resignation of four lawmakers, paving the way for parliamentary by-elections to be held on the same day as June's local elections.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) is enjoying a high approval rate amid optimism about rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula following an inter-Korean summit held in late April.

Ahead of the local elections, rival parties have been bickering over an online opinion rigging scandal involving a former ruling lawmaker who has close ties to President Moon Jae-in.

Also the June 13 election will be held one day after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are planning to meet in Singapore for a historic summit.

Seven out of 10 voters said they will cast ballots in the upcoming elections, according to a survey commissioned by the election watchdog.

The poll showed that 70.9 percent of 1,500 surveyed voters said they will "definitely" go to polling stations, higher than the 55.8 percent recorded in a survey conducted ahead of local elections four years ago.

In 2014, the voting rate for local elections was 56.8 percent, similar to the outcome of the pre-election poll.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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