The campaigns for the April 15 general elections are heating up, with the ruling and main opposition parties each hoping to secure the majority of constituencies.
While there are only 253 constituencies up for grabs, both the ruling Democratic Party and the main opposition United Future Party are projecting victory in 123 to 130 constituencies.
The Democratic Party considers its candidates to have the upper hand in 134 of the 253 constituencies, while the United Future Party considers victories likely in 123 to 128 constituencies.
The Democratic Party appears to be certain of either victory or a close race in most regions, the major exceptions being the Chungcheong and Gyeongsang provinces.
Of Seoul’s 49 seats, the Democratic Party has identified 16 constituencies it believes it will win, and the United Future Party three.
In Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, which together have 72 constituencies, the ruling party considers its candidates to have the lead in 48. The main opposition has a more modest assessment, saying it has the lead in 30.
In their traditional strongholds, both parties are expecting sweeping victories, with each projecting that its candidates will win the vast majority of constituencies.
For the Jeolla provinces -- the Democratic Party’s traditional support base -- the ruling party considers 27 of the region’s 28 seats to be certain wins.
The projection is the opposite for the conservative Gyeongsang provinces, with the United Future Party expecting voters to choose its candidates in 55 of the 65 constituencies. In contrast, the ruling party believes its candidates have a small lead in only seven constituencies in the region.
Opinion polls appear to back the parties’ projections for their traditional strongholds.
A Gallup Korea poll for the first week of April shows that the ruling party has overwhelming support in the Jeolla region, with 65 percent of respondents identifying themselves as Democratic Party supporters. In comparison, only 1 percent said they supported the United Future Party.
In contrast, the United Future Party held sway in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province with 38 percent, while the ruling party recorded 19 percent.
In an attempt to sway voters away from the ruling party, the main opposition is highlighting what it perceives as the shortcomings of the Moon Jae-in administration.
“Look at each of the Democratic Party candidates. They are nothing more than hand-raisers. There isn’t a single courageous lawmaker in the Democratic Party,” United Future Party election committee chief Kim Chong-in said at a meeting in Daejeon on Sunday.
Kim went on to say the ruling party mindlessly supports the president, and that the party’s actions are at the root of the economic and political problems in South Korea.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com