Only 1.2 percent of the candidates nominated for the nation’s 21st general elections were in their 20s and 5 percent were in their 30s. Females only represented 19 percent. The result is absurd considering that the Democratic Party of Korea and the United Future Party publicly announced that they will greatly increase nomination of female and young candidates. Only 12.6 percent of local candidates of the Democratic Party of Korea and 10.9 percent of the United Future Party are female, which is a lot lower than the average. Candidates in their 20s and 30s represent 2.8 percent in the Democratic Party and 5.2 percent in the United Future Party.
Older generation politicians promised to expand participation of women and make a shift in generations in every election, but the promises have never been kept. Constituencies with higher possibilities of winning are dominated by more influential and incumbent lawmakers while hard-working younger politicians are neglected because they are less likely to win and lack experiences.
The bonus points given to female, young or new politicians do not make much different in reality. Even if they are given 50 percent bonus points, their points are too low in the first place to compete with incumbent politicians. Nomination races are oftentimes used for a show to make them look fairer by making incumbent politicians compete with fledgling candidates.
South Korea’s election has fewer female and young candidates because political parties set more value on securing seats in the national assembly rather than fostering the next generations. Politicians are worried about a low voter turnout due to COVID-19, but it is in fact their old-fashioned political conduct that makes voters turn away.
As many as 419 candidates, one-third of the total 1,118 candidates, have criminal records. One hundred of them are members of the Democratic Party of Korea and 62 are members of the United Future Party. An election is a process of electing leaders, and the biggest responsibility of political parties is to find and foster good candidates. It is natural that the upcoming general elections are plagued with noises and unqualified candidates when they are more obsessed with winning than making a generational shift.