April 05, 2021 10:04
Turnout in early voting for the mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan reached a record 20.54 percent last Friday and Saturday. In Seoul, turnout was 21.95 percent and in Busan 18.65 percent.
The National Election Commission said Sunday that 12.16 million people cast their ballots in 21 electoral districts in early voting. The previous record was 20.14 percent in the 2018 local elections.
The high turnout suggests that many voters saw the ballot as a referendum on the Moon Jae-in administration amid a land speculation scandal involving staff of the state-run Korea Land and Housing Corporation and skyrocketing home prices.
But they could also be motivated by convenience since the main voting day, April 7, is a Wednesday and not a temporary holiday, so they may have voted early because they will not be free midweek.
At this rate, overall turnout is also expected to be the highest ever in a by-election.
In the past, high turnout in early voting was considered advantageous to the progressives because more young voters cast their ballots early.
But that formula does not seem to apply this time as polls show young voters have become disillusioned with the ruling Minjoo Party, not least due to record youth unemployment.
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