According to polls, PPP candidates are comfortably ahead in 9 contests, DPK in 4, and the remaining 4 are battlegrounds.
According to public opinion polls, with only a few days to the country’s local elections on June 1, less than a month after President-elect Yoon Suk-inauguration yeol’s on May 10, the conservative ruling People Power Party (PPP) is ahead of the main opposition party.
It is unclear whether this tendency will continue until Wednesday, when voters will choose mayors, governors, city council members, and school superintendents. On the same day, voters will choose eight National Assembly members in by-elections in different regions.
The PPP candidates are leading in nine of the 17 elections to choose mayors and governors of metropolitan cities and provinces, while the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) candidates are leading in four. According to recent surveys conducted by Ipsos, Korea Research, and Hankook Research from May 23 to 25, candidates from the two parties were competing within a margin of error in the final four contests. More information about the survey can be obtained on the National Election Commission’s website.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, who is vying for reelection on the PPP ticket, has a double-digit lead over DPK challenger Song Young-gil. Oh had a 54% approval rating, while DPK’s Song had a 31% approval rating.
The strongest support for PPP candidates came from the country’s most conservative regions: Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province. If last week’s support trend continues until Election Day, Hong Joon-pyo, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2017 presidential election, is anticipated to earn a comfortable victory in Daegu’s mayoral election. His rate was 64%, more than 40 percent higher than the DPK’s Seo Jae-heon, who had 12%.
Lee Chul-woo, the incumbent governor of North Gyeongsang Province who is running for reelection on the PPP ticket, has 61 percent of the vote, ahead of the DPK’s Lim Mi-ae, who has 15%.
In the remaining conservative strongholds of South Gyeongsang Province (53 to 21), Busan (52 to 26), and Ulsan, the ruling party is likewise surpassing the DPK (43 to 27). PPP candidates outnumber DPK candidates in centrist regions such as North Chungcheong Province (43 to 30), South Chungcheong Province (44 to 35), and Gangwon Province (45 to 34).
In contrast, the DPK has dominated the PPP in only four gubernatorial elections, three of which have remained liberal strongholds. Kang Gi-jung, a DPK candidate for Gwangju mayor, received 56% of the vote, while PPP candidate Joo Ki-hwan received only 9 percent. Provincial governor elections in North and South Jeolla Provinces likewise revealed DPK candidates with significant leads. In the polls, the DPK candidate received more support than the PPP candidate in Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, which has traditionally been considered a politically neutral ground.
Gyeonggi Province, one of four electoral constituencies where polls indicate candidates competing within the margin of error, is regarded as the cherry-on-top battleground in the local elections, with the greatest number of eligible voters (11.5 million). One of the most important questions in this election is whether party will win the post of provincial governor.
Kim Eun-hye, a former TV news reporter who worked as a spokesman for Yoon Suk-yeol when he was president-elect, received 38% of the vote in the Gyeonggi governor election polls. Kim Dong-yeon, the DPK’s former economy minister under Moon Jae-in who dropped out of the last presidential election to join with the party’s frontrunner candidate Lee Jae-myung, won the governor election with 39% of the vote.
Mayoral candidates in Daejeon (DPK 40 to PPP 36), Sejong Special Self-Governing City (DPK 39 to PPP 40), and Incheon (DPK 36 to PPP 40) all ran within the margin of error.
Local election outcomes, according to observers, are especially difficult to estimate solely on public opinion ratings since sample sizes for respondents vary widely depending on surveyors, and survey results frequently do not match poll results. The DPK, for its part, is banking on surprise victories in constituencies where polls suggest a higher proportion of PPP backers.
If the PPP wins at least ten mayoral and gubernatorial elections, leverage from the country’s local governments will be more easily funneled to the ruling party and Yoon, who represented the party in the presidential race. It would be a 180-degree turn from the PPP’s predecessor Liberty Korea Party’s dominance in the 2018 local elections.
If, despite all chances, the DPK wins a majority of the constituencies, the main opposition party, which currently has a majority of seats in the National Assembly (163 out of 300), will be able to form a stronger counter-force to President Yoon and the ruling party.
During the early voting session on May 27 and 28, 20.6 percent of eligible voters (9.13 million out of 44.3 million) in the country cast ballots. The turnout was higher than in the previous local elections in 2018 (20.1 percent) and in 2014. (11%).