July 20, 2012 12:42
Voters in their 20s and 30s now account for only 38.8 percent of eligible voters, compared to nearly half in 2002, while voters over 50 account for 39.2 percent, up 10 percentage points over the same period.
The shift in demographics is expected to have a major impact on the presidential elections in December.
Due to the persistently low birthrate and aging population, the number of young voters declined by 1.29 million over the last decade, while middle-aged and older voters increased by 5.51 million.
The National Election Commission on Thursday said there were 8.46 million voters in their 20s during the 1997 presidential election, accounting for 26.2 percent. But the number shrank to 8.1 million or 23.2 percent in the 2002 presidential election and 7.39 million or 18.4 percent in the general election in April this year.
Voters in their 30s accounted for 27.6 percent (8.91 million) in 1997, but dwindled to 25.1 percent (8.79 million) in 2002 and 20.4 percent (8.22 million) in April.
By contrast, the number of voters over 50 increased by 7.03 million since 1997. Voters in their 40s outnumber those in their 30s to become the largest age group for the first time with 8.82 million, accounting for 22 percent.
Pollsters say the trend could end up benefiting the conservative presidential candidate. But experts point out that that older voters are becoming more progressive in their political views.
"Typically progressive voters who were in their 30s and 40s a decade ago are now in their 40s and 50s, so there is no guarantee that they will support the conservative candidate," said a key official with the left-leaning Democratic United Party.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com