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
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy 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

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...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.