South Korea to elect new leader to tackle soaring property prices, inequality
Whoever wins the election will face growing challenges, including widening inequality and soaring house prices that have put a strain on Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
A total of 14 candidates initially registered, but it turned into a tight two-way race between Lee Jae-myung, the standard bearer of the ruling Democratic Party, and Yoon Suk-yeol, of the main party of conservative opposition People Power Party. .
They are vying to succeed incumbent President Moon Jae-in, who is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election. The winner’s single five-year term is set to begin on May 10.
Polls showed a slight edge for Yoon, who got a surprise last-minute boost last week when the People’s Party’s Ahn Cheol-soo, a fellow conservative running a distant third, dropped out and threw his support behind Yoon. .
An Embrain Public survey estimated the merger could give Yoon 47.4% to Lee’s 41.5%, while an Ipsos poll tipped the margin with Ahn at a slightly wider margin of 48.9. % to 41.9% for Yoon.
A former attorney general, Yoon has pledged to fight corruption, promote justice and create a fairer level playing field, while seeking a tougher line on North Korea and a “reset” with China.
Lee was governor of the country’s most populous province, Gyeonggi, and rose to fame for his aggressive coronavirus responses and advocacy for universal basic income.
Both candidates’ disapproval ratings matched their popularity as scandals, insults and gaffes dominated what was dubbed “the unkind election”.
Yoon had apologized for his wife’s use of an inaccurate resume for teaching jobs years ago. He denied accusations by Democrats that his mother-in-law made huge profits from land speculation and took out tens of billions of won in loans from a bank under investigation by the government’s office. prosecutor where Yoon worked.
Yoon also dismissed Lee’s campaign allegations that Yoon’s wife colluded with a former president of a BMW dealership in South Korea to rig the company’s stock prices.
Lee, for his part, apologized for his son’s illegal gambling. He faces a potential criminal investigation into allegations that he illegally hired a provincial employee as his wife’s personal aide and that she misappropriated government funds through his company credit cards.
Lee and his wife apologized for causing public concern and said they would cooperate with any investigation.
The race has faced a number of disruptions, with the Democratic leader leading Lee’s campaign being hospitalized on Monday after a rare attack at a rally.
And amid South Korea’s worst wave of COVID-19 with more than a million people being cared for at home, election officials hastily tightened voting procedures for patients on Monday amid outcry over the early voting irregularities over the weekend.