[EDITORIALS]Election day nearsThe by-elections to be held Thursday have enormous impact on Korean politics. Because the number of electorates involved are expected to be as high as 13, people have begun to call the by-elections a "mini-general election." The political meaning has even been upgraded to "mini-presidential election." If the opposition Grand National Party wins a landslide victory, its presidential candidate, Lee Hoi-chang, will have sweeping control over politics. On the other hand, Roh Moo-hyun, the Millennium Democratic Party's presidential candidate, will be mired in the turmoil of a new party that will threaten his candidacy. If the MDP wins seats in the Seoul Metropolitan area, Lee Hoi-chang's strength will be weakened, while Mr. Roh will gain momentum to restore popularity. All these possible events rest with the public. Voters should be aware that so much attention will be focused on their choices.
The elections will also decide whether the GNP's slogan, "Judgment time for a corrupt and incompetent regime," will work, or whether the MDP's "Five suspicions about Lee Hoi-chang" will be acceptable to the people. The elections will also gauge how people react to the alleged military service exemption of Mr. Lee's son. It is of interest to know whether the voters will support the GNP's claim that the allegation is a part of a dirty political ploy and a repeat of the same issue that the MDP utilized five years ago, or whether the MDP's allegation that the military service issue should be pursued till the ends of time. It is also of interest to see whether people will take issue with the Kim Dae-jung administration's failure in personnel appointments, highlighted by the National Assembly's rejection of Chang Sang as prime minister.
A big question will be the turnout rate. The Central Election Commission is worried that the ratio will be lower than that of the June 13 local elections, which stood at 48.8 percent, because we are in a vacation season and the election day is not a public holiday. Before voting, examine the meaning the election has on the presidential election and compare the backgrounds and policy platforms of the candidates. To do so will boost the pleasure of casting a ballot.