Elderly to Account for ¼ of Voters in Local Elections

  • By Kim Dong-seop

    March 22, 2018 11:22

    Senior citizens account for a whopping 25.2 percent of total registered voters in the upcoming local elections, even though they make up a much smaller proportion of the population.

    The Chosun Ilbo on Wednesday counted the number of voters in each age bracket using the population records from the Ministry of the Interior and Safety.

    Over-60s are the biggest group followed by voters in their 40s (20.3 percent), those in their 50s (19.9 percent), 20s (17.4 percent) and 30s (17.2 percent).

    In the last local elections in 2014, voters in their 40s made up the largest proportion with 21.7 percent, followed by voters over 60 with 21.6 percent. It was in the general election in 2016 that elderly voters first became the biggest group.

    The number of voting districts where voters over 60 account for more than 30 percent has risen from 90 in 2014 to 110. In 54 voting districts they make up 40 to 50 percent.

    Experts say voter turnout is usually low in local elections, and senior citizens often turn out in greater numbers because they are more likely to have the time and inclination.

    The political differences between older and younger voters are changing. As Korea ages, senior citizens are more likely to choose candidates who promise to support them rather than voting based on ideology.

    Bae Jong-chang at Research & Research said, "The proportion of voters in their 60s continues to rise and we will see candidates appealing to their needs to win votes."

    Some lawmakers are seeking to lower the voting age to 18 to make up for the imbalance. There are 610,000 Koreans aged 18, but their number is expected to fall to 470,000 four years from now due to the low birthrate. 

    The proportion of 18- and 19-year-olds is expected to fall from 2.8 percent at present to around two percent by 2024. In contrast, the number of over-60s will rise by 2.38 million from the present 10.75 million.

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