Posted May. 03, 2010 05:39,
Heated campaigns began Sunday with 30 days to go before the local elections, which will elect upper and lower level government leaders, municipal and provincial council legislators, and superintendents.
The elections will be a watershed in enhancing grassroots democracy if voters, who are disillusioned with the chronic corruption in provincial governments over the past four years, cast their ballots by overcoming political apathy.
The elections come at a time when municipal and provincial government heads are under severe criticism because of a spate of corruption scandals.
Since the local autonomy system began in 1995, 97 of 230 lower-level government heads (42.2 percent), have been indicted for corruption or illegal acts. Most recently, the mayors of Yeoju and Dangjin counties have been caught taking bribes.
Voters with children seem especially interested in the election of school superintendents because of the influence superintendents have on schools and the quality of education. For the first time in Koreas history, superintendent elections will be held nationwide on the same day.
Close contests are expected since the local elections are considered a prelude to the presidential and general elections in 2012. The local elections results will reshape the political landscape and power dynamics of each political party.
The ruling and opposition parties will complete candidate nominations this week and set up elections headquarters. The ruling Grand National Party, which completed candidate nominations for upper-level government heads, including its candidate for Seoul mayor, will establish an election committee around May 10. The main opposition Democratic Party will nominate its candidate for Seoul mayor Thursday and set up its election committee Sunday. The progressive Democratic Labor Party and the New Progressive Party chose most of their candidates for upper and lower level government heads and municipal and provincial council legislators, and began full-fledged election campaigns.