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Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Formal campaigning for the forthcoming general election in South Korea commenced on Thursday, with President Yoon Suk Yeol’s ruling party striving to regain a parliamentary majority and counter opposition efforts to obstruct his conservative agenda.

Amid enthusiastic supporters, leaders of the nation’s two primary parties held competing events in Seoul, signaling the onset of nearly two weeks of campaigning leading up to the April 10 vote.

Analysts underscore the significance of the impending poll for Yoon’s People Power Party (PPP), as the president risks entering a lame duck phase for the final three years of his tenure if the opposition secures a super-majority.

According to forecasts cited by Yonhap News Agency, opposition parties stand poised to secure over 200 seats in the 300-member Assembly, potentially granting them authority to impeach the president or override his veto power.

“We approach this election with a commitment to political reform and enhancing public welfare,” stated PPP leader Han Dong-hoon during a campaign event in Seoul.

Observers view the election as a continuum of the 2022 presidential contest, wherein Yoon narrowly defeated the current leader of the opposition Democratic Party (DP), Lee Jae-myung, by a slim margin of 0.73 percent.

Lee is presently under investigation in multiple cases, including allegations of bribery related to a company suspected of unlawfully transferring $8 million to North Korea. He vehemently refutes all accusations.

Furthermore, there has been a surge in support for a party founded by former justice minister Cho Kuk, who faces a two-year prison term for falsifying credentials to facilitate his children’s admission into prestigious universities. He is currently appealing the sentence.

PPP’s Han branded both Lee and Cho as “criminals” in his inaugural campaign speech, pledging to hold them accountable. “This is not negative campaigning; it’s addressing the people’s concerns,” he asserted to cheering supporters.

However, with Yoon’s approval rating hovering at approximately 34 percent and public discontent mounting over the nation’s sluggish economy, the opposition DP and the newly established minor third party are leading in certain polls.

Lee urged voters to view the election as a referendum on the past two years under Yoon’s leadership. “Due to the government’s ineptitude, the cost of living has surged, and peace on the Korean Peninsula is imperiled by (Yoon’s) bellicose stance towards the nuclear-armed North,” he remarked, criticizing the president’s hawkish approach.

South Korea’s presidential term limits restrict Yoon to a single term, which concludes in 2027.

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