S Koreans vote amid tensions

2010-06-02 09:17

Seoul - The deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on North Korea overshadowed crucial local elections Wednesday that were seen as a gauge of public sentiment toward the pro-American president's handling of the security crisis.

Outrage over the sinking, which killed 46 sailors, bolstered support for President Lee Myung-bak's ruling conservative Grand National Party ahead of the vote that will fill 3 991 positions - including key mayoral jobs that often serve as springboards for future national leaders, polls and analysts said.

Voters started casting ballots at 13 388 polling stations for the races that include about 9 900 candidates nationwide.

Before the ship sank two months ago, President Lee was struggling with growing controversy over massive infrastructure projects. Fierce infighting threatened to split his party in two.

But the March 26 downing of the warship has dominated headlines for weeks and has overshadowed other hot-button issues. Security jitters about North Korea deepened after a multinational investigation concluded that a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine tore apart and sank the 1 200-ton Cheonan warship.

The United States and South Korea have decided to hold a massive anti-submarine exercise in the Yellow Sea early next week as part of their punitive measures on the North, the Yonhap news agency said Wednesday, citing an unidentified South Korean military official. Calls to the military and the US command in Seoul were not immediately answered Wednesday, a national holiday.

"The Cheonan helped the GNP. Its sinking mustered conservative votes," said Chung Jin-young, a political scientist at Kyung Hee University in South Korea. "In fact, the GNP hadn't been in a good shape."

Analyst Park Kie-duk agreed. "Above all, we still have the bitter memories of the Korean War," said Park, of the private Sejong Institute near Seoul.

Sledgehammer blows

Voter Eom Soo-heum, 58, construction worker, said he supported the ruling party because he approved of the way the president has handled the ship crisis.

"I assumed that if these candidates shared the same political values with President Lee, they would do a good job," Eom said.

But the main opposition Democratic Party has accused the government of exploiting the sinking for the elections, arguing that Lee should have announced the investigation results after the polls.

Voter Im Mi-ja, 61, supermarket owner, said her ballots went to the opposition. "I think the Lee government initiated the Cheonan incident by not being diplomatic enough with North Korea before the ship incident happened," she said.

North Korea, which has repeatedly denied attacking the ship, has accused the South Korean leader of staging the sinking for election purposes. Pyongyang's state-run Korean Central News Agency on Tuesday urged voters to oppose ruling party candidates and "deal sledgehammer blows" to the president.

Lee's party was forecast to win about half of the 16 races for mayoral and gubernatorial positions, recent opinion polls have said.

Opposition parties were focusing on mayoral races for Seoul and nearby Incheon along with the governor post for Gyeonggi Province that surrounds Seoul.

A survey released by the mass-circulation Dong-a Ilbo last Friday said the ruling party would win nine of the 16 races. The telephone survey of 8,600 adults conducted by the Seoul-based Korea Research Center has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points for Seoul and Gyeonggi. The margin of error for the other 14 races was 4.4 percentage points.

In the Seoul race, the ruling party incumbent, Oh Se-hoon, a potential presidential aspirant, was pitted against the Democratic Party's Han Myung-sook, the nation's first female prime minister under the government of former President Roh Moo-hyun.


- AP

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

DSTV Mobile iDrifta

The iDrifta is a plug and play mobile DVB-H receiver...

From R445.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.