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Early voting for by-elections to begin this week

2014/07/24 09:33

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- Early voting for the July 30 parliamentary by-elections will kick off this week for a two-day run, the national election watchdog said Thursday.

Fifty-five candidates are running for the 15 parliamentary seats up for grabs, the largest-ever number for a by-election. The elections are also widely seen as a referendum on President Park Geun-hye's conservative administration.

Early voting will begin at polling stations in the 15 constituencies, between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and eligible voters are allowed to cast ballots at any of the stations regardless of their electoral district, according to the National Election Commission.

In accordance with the election law, the results of public opinion surveys conducted less than a week before election day shall not be announced or published from Thursday.

The ruling Saenuri Party has vowed to reclaim an absolute majority in the 300-member National Assembly, where it holds 147 out of 285 seats.

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) has called for judgment on the Park administration, holding it responsible for the poor management of April's deadly sinking of the ferry Sewol, which left more than 300 people dead or missing.

In the June 4 local elections, neither the ruling nor the main opposition party claimed a clear-cut victory.

According to a survey conducted by public broadcaster KBS, the ruling party candidates were found to have a lead in five out of six constituencies in Seoul and the surrounding areas in Gyeonggi Province.

The poll of 1,400 citizens aged 19 or older was conducted for two days starting Tuesday, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, according to KBS.