The country’s political parties are to be swallowed up by election fever as the 13-day campaign period for the pivotal July 30 by-elections kicked off Thursday.
On Wednesday, leaders of both the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy stressed the importance of the by-elections, each calling on their members to come together.
In the by-elections, 15 parliamentary seats will be contested for by 55 candidates. Six of the 15 seats are located in Seoul and the surrounding regions, with two and four in the Gyeongsang and Jeolla regions, respectively. The remainder are constituencies in the Chuncheong region.
The ruling party is fielding candidates in all 15 constituencies, while 14 NPAD candidates are in the running.
“The Saenuri Party securing a majority within the parliament in the July 30 by-elections is the most important calling,” Saenuri Party chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung said Wednesday.
“(I) will postpone all decisions until the by-elections and concentrate on this.”
The ruling party currently holds 147 of the National Assembly’s 300 seats.
The NPAD’s leaders also emphasized the need for victory and called for synchronized efforts from lawmakers and party members.
“I will stay in the Dongjak and Suwon areas to conduct election campaigns. At times it may be difficult (for me) to attend supreme council meetings and other party conferences,” NPAD co-chairman Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo said. He added that he will also make frequent visits to Gyeonggi Province’s Pyeongtaek and Gimpo, and the Chungcheong provinces.
Dongjak refers to Seoul’s Dongjak-B constituency, which was left open by the Saenuri Party’s Chung Mong-joon. In Gyeonggi Province’s Suwon, three parliamentary seats will be contested.
For the Suwon-C constituency, the NPAD is fielding former opposition leader Sohn Hak-kyu, while former South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Doo-kwan will run for Gimpo. Both constituencies were held by the ruling party.
“The floor leader should direct the lawmakers so that lawmakers can support campaigns in each area more efficiently. We must win if we are to stop the uncommunicative politics (of the Park Geun-hye administration).”
As the party prepares to launch its campaign, the NPAD is flinging accusations at Saenuri Party candidates and raising allegations of election law violations.
On Tuesday, the NPAD accused Saenuri Party candidates Na Kyung-won and Yim Tae-hee of having a hand in the controversial four-river restoration project as former officials of the Lee Myung-bak administration.
Na is running for Dongjak-B, while Yim is running for Suwon-D.
On Wednesday, NPAD spokesman Rep. Yoo Ki-hong raised concerns about Kim Doo-kwan’s promotion materials being removed from an apartment complex in Gimpo on the previous day, saying “who is behind the development must be revealed.”
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)