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PoliticsSouth Korea

South Korean president casts ballot in early voting

April 5, 2024

South Korea is holding two days of early voting ahead of April 10 parliamentary elections. President Yoon Suk-yeol is hoping his ruling party will retake a majority in the assembly.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol casts his early vote
Some say liberal opposition could keep majority, making President Yoon Suk Yeol, whose term ends in 2027, an early lame duckImage: picture alliance/Yonhap /AP

Many South Koreans, including President Yoon Suk-yeol, cast their ballots on Friday on the first of two days of early voting for next week's parliamentary elections.

More than 3.5 million people, or some 8% of eligible voters, had voted as of 1 p.m., according to the National Election Commission — the highest turnout in the time period since early voting was introduced in 2013.

Surveys have shown that the April 10 election will be a close-run affair, with Yoon's People Power Party (PPP) seeking to win a majority in the 300-seat assembly.

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) currently holds a 167-seat majority, enabling it to pass several bills, including a nursing law that Yoon and his party rejected.

What are the issues at the election?

According to surveys, many South Korean voters are more concerned about issues connected with their livelihoods and other domestic topics than with those that have traditionally dominated votes, such as nuclear threats from North Korea.  

Among other things, rising prices for agricultural products have created much discontent, with apples, for example, seeing a nearly 90% jump in price since a year ago.

South Korea has also seen weeks of strikes by doctors over Yoon's plans to recruit more students for medical schools in order to boost the country's poor doctor-to-population ratio.

Protesting doctors in South Korea
Doctors' strikes have caused considerable inconvenience to patientsImage: Chris Jung/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Doctors say the increase in students would overstrain universities, thus undermining future medical services.

The strikes have led to surgeries being canceled and other problems for patients. 

Yoon's five-year term ends in 2027.

tj/lo (Retuers, AP)