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Dismal Turnout for UNDP Primary

Posted September. 17, 2007 03:11,   


There are growing worries among United New Democratic Party members over the dismal turnout of the liberal party’s nomination as the turnout at the UNDP’s nomination contest held on September 15-16 was less than 20 percent.

The number of Electoral College voters registered in the four regions where the party’s first primary was held, such as Cheju Island, the southeastern industrial city of Ulsan, Gangwon, and Chungbuk was 178,091, but only 35,384 voters cast their ballots. The turnout was 19.81 percent, meaning that only one in five voters registered as Electoral College voters participated in the primary.

The turnout in Gangwon, which was held in September 16, stood at 19.94 percent, and that of Chungbuk remained at 21.57 percent. In Gangwon Province, only 7,484 of 37.530 Electoral College voters cast their ballots, and in Chungbuk, 12.142 of 52.298 votes were cast.

The UNDP announced the primary result on Sunday at 6 p.m. through a live TV broadcast, but it failed to attract the people’s attention, as the public was focused on another news report that Shin Jeong-ah, a former professor at Dongguk University, who fled to the U.S. after she was found to have forged her academic credentials, arrived at Inchon international airport during the same time period.

As for Cheju Island and the southeastern industrial city of Ulsan where the UNDP primary was held on September 15, the turnout in Cheju was 18.9 percent and 18.6 percent for Ulsan. 9,151 of 48,425 electoral voters participated in the primary in Cheju, and 6.507 of 35.832 voters cast their votes. The turnout remained in the single-digits and barely managed to surpass 10 percent by 2 p.m.

With regard to the poor turnout, an official from the UNDP attributed it to the bad weather on the primary election days, especially in Cheju, and the recent academic forgery scandal that diverted public attention.

However, many party members pointed out the candidate camps brought misfortune on themselves by recruiting those who had no intention to vote to, resulting in the low turnout. In addition, as the party came under criticism for poor management of the pre-primary race, the public turned its back on the UNDP party primary.

GNP Spokesperson Park Heong-joon said, “Each camp recruited an excessive number of voters to the electoral college to take the initiative in the primary. That was the main reason behind this dismal voter turnout. The primary failed to reflect public opinion.”

Some party members voiced discontent in comparing the primary turnout on September 15-16 to the Democratic Party primary in 2002 or to the GNP primary this year because the primaries were based on different voting systems.

In the 2002 DP primary election, the turnouts were 85.2 percent in Cheju, 71.4 percent in Ulsan, 67 percent in Gangwon, and 59.2 percent in Chungbuk. As for the GNP primary, the turnout in the four regions was 79.4 percent, 79.8 percent, 73.2 percent, and 74 percent, respectively.