South Korea elects new parliament

South Korea elects new parliament

© Photo: Ahn Young-Joon / AP / dpa
With a face mask to the ballot box: A woman casts her vote in a polling station in Seoul.

Despite the coronavirus crisis, millions of people voted today in the general election in South Korea. The election is not only seen as a general political mood test, but should also show how voters assess the government’s crisis management.

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (Minjoo) of moderately left-wing President Moon Jae In started the race as a favorite. The goal of the conservative United Future Party (UFP) – the largest opposition party – was to prevent a clear majority of the government camp in the National Assembly.

It is about the distribution of 300 mandates. Almost 44 million South Koreans were able to vote. Seven hours after the polling stations opened, the participation was 49.7 percent, 11.8 percent higher than four years ago, as the national election commission announced. The votes cast in the pre-selection on Friday and Saturday were included. In order to avoid large crowds of people, numerous voters had taken the opportunity to vote early.

The election is overshadowed by the Corona pandemic. Special protective measures have been taken at more than 14,300 polling stations across the country to reduce the risk of infection with Sars-CoV-2. South Korean television stations showed how care was taken to ensure that voters waited at least one meter apart in the queue. They also had to wear a mask and put on disposable gloves when filling out the ballot paper. Every voter also measured fever at the polling stations.

The election in Asias fourth largest economy is primarily a duel between the Democratic Party and the UFK. The ruling party hopes to repeat its success in the general election four years ago when it surprisingly became the strongest single party. According to observers, she could benefit from the recent rise in popularity for President Moon.

The government’s strategy to combat the Covid 19 outbreak is endorsed by a majority of South Koreans. Thanks to its rigid virus test program, the country is now seen as a role model for containing the virus.

Recently, the number of cases reported daily had stabilized at less than 50. So far, more than 10 500 cases of infection have been officially recorded in the country. In addition to dealing with the Covid 19 crisis, the consequences of the pandemic for the economy and social issues were important issues. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2022.

Before the general election, numerous small parties had been founded. Candidates from a total of 41 parties applied for the mandates.

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