[EDITORIALS]Caution: elections ahead

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[EDITORIALS]Caution: elections ahead

Wednesday is the deadline for would-be candidates to register for nationwide local elections to be held June 13. The elections will reveal who will be the grassroots leaders of our communities. In those elections, one voter is supposed to cast ballots to elect a governor, mayor, a district head and a local legislator. In reality, this is not an easy task because four local elections are held at once. In addition, a new election law allows a voter to cast two ballots for each post -- one for a candidate and another for a political party he supports. Thus, there is a wide range of candidates to choose from. It will not be easy for a voter to give close attention to each candidate's career and policies.

In fact, quite a few candidates are unqualified for many public posts. Although the election law, which requires each contender to disclose any criminal record, has helped reduce the number of unqualified people, there still are candidates who have manipulated their careers. It is not difficult to figure out why such people try to conceal who they really are. Some candidates resort only to negative campaigns against their rivals, while others make election promises so grandiose that even their parties might find the candidates' words embarrassing.

There is another group of contenders that voters should be aware of: Those who bolted from their parties and joined rival parties after losing intra-party competitions for nomination. Among 176 incumbent mayors and district heads, some 50 have failed to be nominated by their parties. Although they may argue that they have lost because the intra-party races were unfair, voters should pay close attention.

The mayor's race in Suwon, south of Seoul, is a typical case concerning the party membership of candidates. The candidate from the Grand National Party is a defector from the rival Millennium Democratic Party, while the MDP contender has moved to the party after a failed bid to win the GNP's nomination. Worse yet, the current mayor has been sentenced to five years in jail for receiving bribes, and the case is pending in an appeals court.

For these and other reasons, voters have such tough choices to make that some might even feel like not going to the polls. Still, voters should try to make the best choices possible because they might eventually be the victims of a bad choice that others make.

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