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Local Candidate Registrations Begin

Posted January. 31, 2006 03:01,   


Starting on January 31, the National Election Commission (NEC) will start receiving registrations for preliminary candidates running for the May 31 local elections, which will decide on new mayors and governors for 16 cities and provinces. The registration for local autonomous government, metropolitan assembly members and local administrators will start on March 16.

Active National Assembly members who are required to resign their posts in order to register as preliminary candidates are setting up strategies to circumvent the limited campaigning allowed to preliminary candidates and keep their active posts until the official candidate registration deadlines on May 16 and 17. Active heads of local autonomous governments are not obligated to resign if they are running for the same post, however.

It is expected that political newcomers or outsiders who don’t have any worthwhile posts to keep will use preliminary candidate registrations.

No Reason to Renounce Privileges of Current Post—

Barely any lawmakers have stepped forward to renounce their jobs and register as preliminary candidates.

GNP member Maeng Hyung-kyu, who until recently said that after resigning his National Assembly member title he would then put all his efforts into the local elections, expressed his concern, saying, “When I actually tried to resign, the opposition from people close to me was too great.”

If one uses the preliminary candidate registration system, implemented for the first time this year, limited campaigning such as sending e-mail and pamphlets to voters, as well as setting up an election headquarters are permitted, but in return, one has to resign his or her National Assembly seat.

Sources close to one lawmaker who is considering running for Gyeonggi Province governor commented, “If one resigns from his post, he or she has to immediately give up their seat in the National Assembly and cannot officially meet with fellow lawmakers, so it is disadvantageous in the party preliminaries. In addition, all types of public activities, such as reporting national affairs that can have natural campaigning effects are also barred.”

As for current head of autonomous government bodies, they aren’t obliged to quit, so using their current job, they can engage in a virtual campaign, which is currently under hot dispute. In some metropolitan cities, where the mayor is running for a second term, other candidates say, “The city hall is in fact a campaign headquarters, and city workers belong to a campaigning camp.”

Desperate Political Rookies—

On the other hand, candidates with no active duties are planning to make full use of the preliminary candidate registration system and increase their spectrum of activities.

Professor Kim Seok-jun of Pusan University, the Democratic Labor Party candidate for mayor of Busan, said, “Right after registering as a candidate, I will send e-mails to the addresses collected by my party members and start the 100,000 Citizen Network Organization Movement.” Jeju University Tourism Development Department Professor Song Jae-ho, who hopes to run for Jeju Governor as the Uri Party candidate, said, “I made 10,000 business cards so I can attend all types of events and make my name known after registering as a preliminary candidate.”

Jung-Eun Lee Kang-Myoung Chang lightee@donga.com tesomiom@donga.com