The 18th Republic of Korea presidential election will be held in South Korea tomorrow, on the 19th of December. It will be the sixth presidential election since democratization and the establishment of the Sixth Republic, and will be held under a first-past-the-post system, meaning that there will be a single round of voting and the candidate receiving the highest number of votes will be elected.
Though there are right winged and left winged parties it is not as clear cut as America. Many have told me that both are pretty conservative, they are not as polarized as our Democratic or Republican parties. However,
In the United States, there are some clear structural barriers to suddenly making oneself felt in party politics, especially for third-party candidates. There is a need for a lot of money. That is a high bar in politics and it keeps out third-party candidates.
In the United States as well there is now a very low level of trust in the parties, but the United States’ lack of faith in existing parties has not translated into support for an independent candidate, at least when it comes to the current presidential election.
In Korea, there are parties with long-term institutions, but those parties are less about ideals; instead the party coalesces around an individual and his vision. So it is possible to break away from parties and also to start them, or rename them, more easily.
So if one person says, “I am going to break away and form my own party,” it is possible to do so because loyalty is as much to people as it is to party. It is a significant difference in political culture between the United States and Korea. [Groove Korea]
So people become loyal to individuals and not parties. In learning about all of this and the government history of Korea, I am reminded of just how young Korea really is. In Korea, there was a monarchic dynasty until 1910 and Korea was run under Japanese colonialism until 1945. Then new democratic institutions were, in some ways, imposed upon South Korea by the United States and the UN. So really, the loyalty to individuals makes sense as parties keep shifting, changing, and even merging. The Saenuri 새누리당 (idealogy: conservatism) is the oldest, founded in 1997. The Democratic United Party 민주통합당 (ideology: liberalism/progressive) has been around since 2011.
A close race
It’s a close race between the two main candidates. Here are two videos showing the main concerns and will be the economy that takes center stage as polls show growing opposition to the business elite.
UPDATE: Park Geun Hye is the first female president of South Korea
My thoughts on this. Well being from Daegu, I knew most people would vote for her. It’s the most conservative city in Korea. That being said, I was already weary of that considering that she is not only a dictator’s daughter but she has:
Park Geun-hye’s family legacy has overshadowed her political career. In September, she issued a public apology for human rights abuses committed under her father.
However, she also described his 1961 coup as necessary, which alienated some younger voters who were wary of Ms Park’s unwillingness to fully renounce her father. [BBC]
On top of that, though she is female, my opinion is that she is more of an opening for future women to rise high in the political sphere. I don’t think she will be making much headway for women in Korea for the next 5 years. Moon Jae In had better and more favorable policies to women than Park. Many of Park’s critics point out that by not marrying or having children, she may not have the empathy or the willingness to meet the needs of Korean mother’s and wives today. [Source from Asia Society]