As polls approach, pols blast each other

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As polls approach, pols blast each other

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Over the Port of Busan yesterday, a blimp employed by the Busan branch of the National Election Commission encourages voters to get out and cast their ballots in the June 2 local elections. By Song Bong-geun

In last-minute appeals to voters before tomorrow’s local elections, the Grand National Party attacked the Democratic Party for “destroying the nation’s economy and security,” while the DP said tomorrow’s polls are the last chance to stop the “unilateral, runaway governance” of President Lee Myung-bak’s party.

The conservative opposition Liberty Forward Party criticized both main parties, urging voters to select its candidates who will work for more autonomy for local governments.

The JoongAng Ilbo received yesterday exclusive messages from the heads of the three largest parties.

Grand National Chairman Chung Mong-joon criticized the Democratic Party and other liberal opposition parties for blocking the government and ruling party’s efforts to improve the economy. Calling the liberals “those who have destroyed the economy and national security and split the people,” Chung said the Democrats and other opposition parties “always oppose everything the Lee administration does for the sheer sake of opposition.”

“Amid the national security crisis following the Cheonan’s sinking, they also defended North Korea and continue to stir up internal conflicts,” Chung said, urging voters “to not let those who had harmed the nation’s economy and security to also destroy local economies.”

Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun said the elections are a crossroads at which voters must decide whether to give the opposition parties the power to check the government and ruling party, or otherwise allow unilateral power.

Complaining that the president, the legislature and local governments are all dominated by the Grand Nationals, Chung criticized the GNP for politicizing the Cheonan’s sinking to unite the conservative votes.

Chung also said the local elections are a referendum on Lee’s four major rivers project.

“Runaway power and abuse of authority are not the same thing as stability,” he said.

Liberty Forward Party Chairman Lee Hoi-chang said Lee’s administration and party have failed the nation by allowing the North’s attack on the Cheonan. He also criticized the DP for obstructing legislation and defending the North.

Saying that the LFP has nominated specialists with visions for the future, ranging from a financier to a North Korean defector, Lee said voters must choose his party’s candidates if they want to have hope for the future.

On the eve of the elections, the three leaders also toured strategic districts. The GNP’s Chung was in Gangwon and North Chungcheong yesterday and returned to Seoul to focus on the capital region today.

The DP’s Chung had a similar schedule, visiting the Chungcheong and Gangwon provinces yesterday and then Seoul. He was also to focus on the capital region today.

Lee of the LFP concentrated his last-hour efforts on the party’s traditional stronghold, South Chung-cheong.

While under law, no new opinion polls can be published on the eve of the elections, each party provided a forecast yesterday. The GNP said it was confident of winning at least 10 metropolitan city mayor and provincial governor posts including Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gyeonggi and both Gyeongsang provinces. The DP said it is ahead in five places: Gwangju, North and South Jeolla, South Chungcheong and South Gyeongsang.

The DP also said its candidates are neck-and-neck in Seoul, Gyeonggi, Incheon, North Chungcheong and Gangwon.

The LFP said it was confident to win the Daejeon mayor and South Chungcheong governor posts.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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