Mayor’s day care campaign called electioneering

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Mayor’s day care campaign called electioneering

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon’s advertisements on buses and subways urging the central government to pick up more of the bill for day care programs has annoyed the ruling Saenuri Party.

The ruling party said yesterday it submitted a complaint to the National Election Commission saying that the mayor’s campaign was basically electioneering for next June’s local elections and was therefore a violation of the election law.

Korea’s election campaigns are restricted to a few weeks before elections.

Since Aug. 13, the city government has been running audio and video ads on 350 intracity bus lines and also bought posters in stations on four subway lines.

The ads are also on the city government’s Web page. They urge the central government to bear a greater portion of the expense for free day care programs.

“Dear President,” one of the subway posters reads, “Please keep your promise. You said the central government must lead large-scale projects like the free day care program.”

The municipal government has to pay 80 percent of the cost of day care programs and the central government pays the rest.

Seoul wants the central government to pay half. The city government has warned that the day care programs might be halted in September if the central government doesn’t give more financial support.

“Mayor Park is trying to shift the responsibility for the possible failure of the free day care programs to the central government ahead of the June 2014 local elections,” Hong Moon-jong, secretary-general of the ruling party, said yesterday at a press conference held at the National Assembly.

“Under Article 86 of the election law, the head of a local government can’t publish more than one type of promotional material describing the local government’s activities, and it can’t distribute the materials more than one time per quarter,” Hong said. “It can definitely impact the election, thus it is electioneering.”

Park has said that he will run for another term as mayor in June.

In December 2010, the city government under former Mayor Oh Se-hoon was warned by the election commission.

Oh released two types of advertisements opposing the free school meal program in daily newspapers.

The ruling party also criticized Park for deciding to invest about 8 trillion won ($7.2 billion) to create nine light rail lines, which they said could become white elephants.

The city government argued that its ads don’t violate the election law. They are “letting the citizens know about the unfair financial allotment for the free day care programs between the central and the city government.”

“We are checking whether the city government has violated the law,” a spokesman of the election commission said. “We will take necessary action.”

BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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