Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party of Korea is the favourite to win the presidential race and the political audience’s attention is on whether he will be able to garner more than 50 percent of ballots.
Another point of interest is whether the nation’s final turnout will make it past the 80 percent mark for the first time in 20 years, reflecting the public’s aspiration for political reforms.
Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, and his wife Kim Jung-sook wave to photographers after voting at a polling station in Hongeun-dong, western Seoul, on May 9, 2017. (Yonhap)
In a survey released by the National Election Commission on Thursday, 87 percent of the respondents said that they would vote in the presidential election.
Such zeal was also reflected in the highest-ever early voting turnout last week which stood at 26.06 percent.
The election watchdog anticipated that the outcome of the race would take shape at around 2-3 a.m. Wednesday when 70-80 percent of the ballots have been counted. However, if the turnout exceeds 80 percent, which would indicate the active participation of the progressive-leaning young generation, the timeline could be moved forward to midnight or earlier, according to officials.
The last time the figure stood in the 80 percent range was in 1997, when the late former President Kim Dae-jung was elected, upon a total turnout of 80.7 percent.
Leading candidate Moon, whose support was mostly in the 30-40 percent range during the campaigning period, hopes to achieve a sweeping victory with at least 50 percent of votes.
His intention is to outrun his runner-up rivals -- Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party and Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party -- and also to gain momentum upon kicking off his new administration.
But despite Moon’s steady lead in polls, gaining 50 percent of votes is considered a challenging goal, due to the highly-crowded race of 13 candidates which is likely to split votes.
By Bae Hyun-jung (email@example.com