Today’s polls to serve as confidence vote on Park

Residents queue for their votes for local elections at a polling station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 4, 2014.(Photo:AP/Newsis)

President Park Geun-hye and the tragic April 16 Sewol disaster will mostly likely affect the result of the June 4 local elections.

In the wake of the ferry sinking that left more than 300 people dead or missing, the elections are regarded as a mid-term test for the sitting government amid a lingering public outcry against its botched response to the accident.

As a result, the Saenuri Party is employing “Park Geun-hye marketing,” calling on voters to save the President and give her another chance by supporting the ruling party so that it can effectively manage state affairs. The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), for its part, has called for a judgment of the government over the ferry sinking.

“President Park is now in charge of administering affairs of state,” Saenuri Party floor leader Lee Wan-koo said Tuesday in a radio interview at which Kim Doo-kwan, the NPAD campaign co-chairman, and Justice Party floor leader Sim Sang-jeung were also present.

“We have unlimited responsibility for the accident, but nevertheless, Korea needs to go forward.”

Lee also said in a rally at Busan Station that the Saenuri Party should win in the local elections for President Park to reform the nation.

In addition, some party candidates running for mayors and governors gathered at Seoul Station, Sunday, and begged the people to rescue the President to better guide the nation.

Against this, the NPAD has adopted a strategy that stresses the government’s failed rescue operation.

“The incompetent government failed to save any survivors, but the Saenuri Party is just trying to save the President. People will judge the irresponsibility of the ruling party,” NPAD Co-Chairman Kim Han-gil said at a party meeting.

Floor leader Park Young-sun said: “The people should hold the government responsible for the failed rescue operation. The Saenuri Party asks for one more chance, but it is blocking the parliamentary fact-finding investigation into the accident and we need to issue a red card to them.”

Meanwhile, the local elections are expected to be a turning point for the future of the Park administration.

After the accident, Park, who took office in February 2013, saw her approval ratings drop below 50 percent for the first time in more than a year due to the botched initial response.

In addition, with the ruling party behind in some main battlefields, Cheong Wa Dae is being cautious about the election results.

“As the local elections have historically not been favorable to the ruling party, we do not have any particular expectations,” a presidential office official told Yonhap News.

“But in some areas, ruling party candidates are doing well against their opponents.”

The local elections will choose 17 provincial governors and mayors as well as municipal government heads, council members and educational superintendents. By Kang Seung-woo The korea times

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