[EDITORIALS]Election day againToday is the day for by-elections. The mayor of Busan, governors of South Jeolla, South Gyeongsang and Jeju provinces and some district government heads and council members will be elected today. According to the National Election Commission, the total number of voters who cast ballots today will be as many as 12.5 million; that is, today’s by-elections are big events in which over one-third of the total voters will participate. The elections will not only elect local public servants, but also serve as an opportunity to see whether people support reform programs the ruling camp promotes, or want to check the giant ruling party that occupies the majority of seats in the Assembly.
We can find the significance of the by-elections even from the procedure itself. The officials at the election commission and the parties agreed with the evaluation that the illegal practices of vote-buying and mobilizing voters in groups, that had started to disappear in the Assembly elections in April, have virtually come to an end now. This election seems to give confirmation that Korean politics is to be freed from the chronic disease of corruption. We welcome the change. How much we welcome the change should be shown by the high turnout ratio, reflecting voters’ interest in politics.
By-election day is not a public holiday and it is being held during weekend for the first time as a trial. The possibility that holiday seekers and those who work on Saturdays would give up voting is relatively high. The government has delayed the show-up time of civil servants living in areas where by-elections are held by one hour. And as the closing time at the polls is lengthened until 8 p.m. for the first time, it is possible to make use of the late afternoon hours. It is hoped, therefore, that all voters cast their votes.
It is regrettable that party head offices show an attitude of excessively clinging to election victories. Due to such attitudes, the 17th Assembly could not make a fresh start. It was also regrettable that some politicians tried to incite or make use of regional sentiment. We want the Assembly, as a part of political reform, to consider taking preventive measures against such behavior. Also needed are punishments for politicians who engage in excessive personal attacks or slander against their rivals.