Gulf Today

Yoon joins early voting ahead of elections


SEOUL: South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol cast his ballot on Friday as early voting got under way ahead of next week’s general election, where his party will seek to win back its parliament­ary majority.

The South Korean leader’s approval ratings have fallen below 40 per cent in recent weeks, according to some pollsters, driven by a litany of scandals and voter dissatisfa­ction with rising inflation.

But experts say the poll is crucial for Yoon’s People Power Party (PPP) because his authority could be significan­tly weakened for the final three years of his term if the opposition wins a super majority.

Yoon cast his vote in the country’s southern port city of Busan on Friday, and aterwards thanked the staff at the polling station, his office said.

The president and 11.1 per cent of the country’s eligible voters had cast their ballots at more than 3,500 polling stations nationwide as of 3 pm on Friday, according to the country’s election commission.

It is the highest turnout for a general election during the specified time slot since early voting was introduced in 2013, authoritie­s said.

Yoon had on Thursday urged every eligible voter to cast their ballot, calling it both an “exercise of right and responsibi­lity.”

He is only allowed a single five-year term under the constituti­on, and his party is eager to win control of parliament so they can make progress on his socially conservati­ve agenda and hawkish approach to Pyongyang.

While his party has faced scandals, including a claim that Yoon’s former defence minister had interfered with a probe into a young marine’s death, the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) leader Lee Jae-myung has been mired in criminal investigat­ions.

In a joint survey published on Thursday by four leading polling organisati­ons, 39 per cent of its participan­ts said they would vote for the PPP, while 37 per cent the DP.

In the 2022 presidenti­al race, Yoon narrowly beat Lee by a small margin of 0.73 per cent, with DP still holding the parliament­ary majority.

“If Yoon’s party does well, it will give him more leverage; if his party does poorly, it could effectivel­y keep Yoon from leading,” Linda Hasunuma, a political scientist at Temple University, told AFP.

The early voting period ends on Saturday.

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Yoon Suk Yeol casts his early vote for the parliament­ary election at a polling station in Busan on Friday.
Associated Press ↑ Yoon Suk Yeol casts his early vote for the parliament­ary election at a polling station in Busan on Friday.

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