Candidate registration began Thursday for the June 1 local elections and parliamentary by-elections amid expectations that the results could serve as an early bellwether for the new government of President Yoon Suk-yeol.
The National Election Commission (NEC) will receive candidacy registration on Thursday and Friday before the official 13-day campaign period kicks off May 19.
Up for grabs in the local elections are mayoral and gubernatorial posts, local council seats and education board chiefs across the nation. Contests for big city mayors and provincial governors, such as Seoul mayor and Gyeonggi Province governor, are considered key races in the polls.
This year's elections have drawn greater attention as seven National Assembly seats are also at stake in parliamentary by-elections, and political heavyweights, such as former presidential candidates Lee Jae-myung and Ahn Cheol-soo, have declared their bids.
Ahn, former head of Yoon's presidential transition committee, is aiming for the seat representing the Bundang A district of Seongnam, just south of Seoul, as the ruling People Power Party (PPP) candidate, while Lee is hoping to win the seat in the Gyeyang B district in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, as the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) candidate.
The race for Seoul mayor will mainly be between current Mayor Oh Se-hoon and former DP Chairman Song Young-gil, while the contest for Gyeonggi governor will largely be between former Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon of the DP and former lawmaker Kim Eun-hye of the PPP. (Yonhap)