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(LEAD) South Korean voters go to polls in local elections

All News 09:18 June 13, 2018

(ATTN: INSERTS 4th para with turnout rate; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, June 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea began voting Wednesday in local elections and parliamentary by-elections which are seen as a referendum on liberal President Moon Jae-in's administration.

At stake are 4,016 local administrative, legislative and educational posts, including 17 metropolitan mayoralties and provincial governorships. The by-elections are to fill 12 vacant parliamentary seats.

Voting kicked off at 6:00 a.m. and was to run until 6:00 p.m. at 14,134 polling centers nationwide, according to the National Election Commission (NEC). Eligible voters number 42.9 million.

As of 9 a.m., 7.7 percent of all eligible voters have turned out to cast their ballots, the election watchdog said.

Voters stand in line at a polling station in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, to cast their ballots in South Korea's local government elections on June 13, 2018. (Yonhap)

It is the first time that the two types of elections will be held simultaneously.

Turnout in the two-day early voting period came in at 20.14 percent, higher than the 11.5 percent for the 2014 local elections, the NEC said.

A higher-than-expected turnout for the advance voting is drawing attention to whether turnout for Wednesday's elections could surpass 60 percent.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) is widely expected to clinch a sweeping victory on the back of strong public support for Moon and his drive for peace with North Korea.

Rival parties have been gauging the impact of the historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which was held just a day earlier in Singapore.

The unprecedented event appeared to have already been factored into the local elections, but rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula is viewed as a boon for the liberal DP.

The LKP is hoping that "shy" conservative voters will come out after keeping a low profile on political issues.

The opposition party is still reeling from low public support following last year's ousting of former President Park Geun-hye due to a corruption scandal.


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