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08.03.2022 12:27 News >> South Korea To Elect New President On Wednesday

South Korea To Elect New President On Wednesday

Opinion polls suggest neck to neck race between ruling Democratic Party and main opposition People Power Party.

South Koreans will elect a new president on Wednesday, even as the country is reporting a huge number of COVID-19 infections every day since last month.
A tough contest is expected between ruling Democratic Party candidate Lee Jae-myung and main opposition People's Power Party (PPP) candidate Yoon Suk-yeol, with both holding major public gatherings Sunday in the capital Seoul.
The official election campaign, which started on Feb. 15, will come to an end on Tuesday.
Opinion polls conducted last week showed a neck-to-neck race between two main candidates receiving 40% support each while 10% supported nominees from the small parties, including the People's Party and the Justice Party, major South Korean New Agency Yonhap reported.
According to the National Election Commission (NEC), 44 million voters will elect a new president. Out of them, 16.3 million have already cast their votes on Friday and Saturday.
President Moon Jae-in and leading candidates Yoon and Lee cast their votes on Friday.
Some 161,878 overseas voters also cast their votes at 177 missions across the world from Feb. 23-28, said the NEC.
The country's election authorities hope the majority of eligible voters will take part in the voting on Wednesday.
"The NEC conducted a public opinion poll targeting eligible voters with the 20th presidential election ahead regarding how interested people are in the presidential election and how much intention they have for taking part in voting. The result shows that 89.9% of the voters, which means nine out of 10 voters, are taking an interest in this election and that eight out of 10 voters said they will vote for certain," the election authority said in a statement last week.
Tough contest expected
Ruling party candidate Lee, who was slightly leading in earlier polls, is now expected to face a tough contest after People's Party candidate Ahn Cheol-soo joined hands with the People Power Party -- the major opposition party. Ahn withdrew from the race and declared his support for Yoon Suk-yeol last week.
"Both of us, Ahn Cheol-soo and Yoon Suk-yeol agreed to combine our minds for a better chance of government," Ahn said at a joint news conference with Yoon.
On Sunday, Ahn also joined Yoon's ongoing campaign and asked his supporters to vote for him.
The move comes ahead of what is expected to be a tight race between Yoon and Lee.
A survey conducted last week showed that Yoon would lead Lee by 47.4% to 41.5% if he merged campaigns with Ahn.​​
On Sunday while addressing his supporters, Lee said he would overcome any obstacles and called himself "unbreakable."
Lee, who earlier served as mayor of Seongnam city and governor of Gyeonggi province, is known as a strict administrator and said he will overcome the current COVID-19 crisis and would drive economic growth with fairness and bring national unity, according to the Yonhap.
Lee, Yoon profiles
Born in 1964 in a poor family in the southeastern city of Andong, Lee Jae-myung moved to Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, where he worked in various factories.
He continued his studies while working to support his family and became a human rights lawyer.
In 2004, he decided to join politics and later ran for election as mayor of Seongnam in 2006 but lost.
In 2010, he again ran for the city council's top position and won. Lee was a two-time mayor of the city before becoming governor of Gyeonggi province in 2018.
Main opposition candidate Yoon Suk-yeol, 61, who is a law graduate, served as a prosecutor and investigated high-profile cases including former President Park Geun-hye's corruption scandal that led to her impeachment and imprisonment.
Later in Moon's government, he was promoted to the position of the prosecutor general. However, he left the position in March last year and announced to contest the election and secured the nomination of the main opposition People Power Party for the presidency.
Justice Party candidate Sim Sang-jung is a current member of parliament and she also contested the 2017 presidential election.
However, in recent survey polls, she received the support of 2% to 3%.
Election under the shadow of COVID-19
South Korea's presidential election will be held under the shadow of the coronavirus as the country is currently facing a huge spike of COVID-19 infections.
The number of infections has been rising since last December when the first case of the highly contagious omicron variant was reported in the country.
On Thursday, South Korea reported 266,850 cases, the highest number of single-day infections in the last two years.
The total caseload has now risen to over 4.86 million with 9,282 deaths, according to the Health Ministry data.
Ahead of the election campaign which started on Feb. 15, the country's total number of infections was 1.46 million with 7,163 deaths.
But during the last 19 days, the country reported over 3 million cases and over 2,000 deaths. -



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