Ruling party pinpoints dates for primary votesThe ruling Saenuri Party yesterday pinned down the dates for when it will nominate the candidates for each gubernatorial seat in the upcoming local polls, resuming election-related operations that have been stalled in the wake of the Sewol ferry accident on April 16 in waters off the southwestern coast.
The party will vote May 12 to decide which of its three candidates, Chung Mong-joon, Kim Hwang-sik or Lee Hye-hoon, will challenge for Seoul mayor, the most closely watched race in the local elections.
Voting was originally planned for April 30 but was pushed back to May 9 after the disaster.
Given its importance, the Seoul mayoral nominee will be confirmed last among potential frontrunners across electoral precincts. The Incheon mayoral and Gyeonggi gubernatorial candidates will be decided May 9 and 10, respectively.
The party has already finalized candidates for nine of the 17 mayoral and gubernatorial seats.
The Busan, Daegu and Daejeon mayoral candidates and the South Chungcheong and Gangwon gubernatorial candidates will all be determined April 30.
Candidate nominations are calculated with 20 percent coming from the party’s Supreme Council members, 30 percent from party members, 30 percent from randomly chosen voters and 20 percent based on the results of a phone survey.
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) has yet to come up with its nomination schedule.
Indicating that it would also resume its campaigning, the Saenuri hastened its nomination process following the National Election Commission’s declaration on Tuesday that it would extend the deadline for providing financial support and subsidies for all political parties that held their primaries five days before April 30.
The announcement came after much speculation that the government could put the elections on hold with the nation in mourning.
Parties holding their primaries beyond the April 30 deadline will be responsible for paying the fees and expenditures for polling personnel, facility installation, related documents and ballot production.
President Park Geun-hye’s approval rating fell dramatically this week, hitting 56.5 percent on Wednesday from as high as 71 percent on April 18, when Park visited the scene of the ferry accident to meet with the families of the victims, according to a post on Twitter by Lee Taek-soo, the head of survey agency Realmeter.
The disaster has so far left more than 100 people dead and unaccounted for.
The decline “appears to stem from the public’s snowballing discontent with the government’s capability to cope with crisis,” Lee wrote.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]