All politics is local now more than everLocal elections are a day when residents elect a person who can govern their districts, councils, cities, and provinces for the next four years. The elections are the core of the autonomous government system and grassroots democracy. Someone who knows best about the needs and features of the district is normally chosen. But somehow the elections are turning into an extension of presidential or parliamentary elections, or a contest of two rivaling mainstream parties. People without any relevance to the region are joining the race. Central politics are overruling regional politics. The phenomenon is deepening for the upcoming eighth local elections.
Former Democratic Party (DP) Rep. Song Young-gil declared a bid for Seoul mayoral post versus sitting conservative mayor Oh Se-hoon. It had been less than a month since he resigned from leadership over the ruling party candidate’s defeat in the March 9 presidential election. He declared not to run in the next parliamentary election after five terms. But he is suddenly vying for the Seoul mayoral seat, instead of Incheon where he previously served as the mayor.
He claims he is making the attempt for his party, and some suspect persuasion from Lee Jae-myung, the defeated presidential candidate and former governor of Gyeonggi Province. His bid baffles party members. Some argue the move is strange, while others raise concern for conflict within the party.
The Gyeonggi gubernatorial race has become a kind of rebound position for unsuccessful contestants in the last presidential or primary race. Kim Dong-yeon, former finance minister who bowed out of the race, claimed he would put himself to the judgment of Gyeonggi residents with visions for the region and action plans. How hard he could have deliberated on a vision for Gyeonggi where he has no direct relation is questionable. Former Rep. Yoo Seung-min of People’s Party who claimed to have the “upright” scholarly spirit of Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province in his blood is also bidding for the governorship.
Hong Joon-pyo, who had lost against outsider Yoon Suk-yeol in the primary for presidential candidacy of the People Power Party (PPP), is vying for Daegu mayorship. Although he represents Daegu in the legislature, he had served two terms as the governor of South Gyeongsang Province.
The aspirants for North Chungcheong governorship look more farcical as they are defeated contestants of last parliamentary election. They include former PPP lawmakers Kim Young-hwan and Lee Hye-hoon. Kim was born in North Chungcheong, but his political career evolved around the capital region. He represented Ansan for four terms and bid for Gyeonggi governor. He last ran from Goyang. Lee connects to North Chungcheong because her father was born there.