S Koreans brave virus to vote, ruling party set to win

Seoul, April 15

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s ruling party is projected to win a parliamentary election on Wednesday, exit polls showed, as mask-wearing voters cast their ballots under strict precautions against the coronavirus.

The election is being closely watched around the world as one of the first nationwide votes since the epidemic began. The coronavirus has caused delays in many other political calendars.

A ruling party majority in parliament would help Moon to push through his agenda in his final two years in office, with a looser fiscal policy aimed at creating jobs, a higher minimum wage and engagement with North Korea his priorities.

Voters at some 14,000 disinfected polling stations had to wear masks, have their temperatures checked, use hand sanitizer and plastic gloves and maintain a safe distance from others.

A voter said she was initially apprehensive about coming out to vote because of the virus. “But having come here and seen for myself, I felt it’s good we voted as planned, and people are taking greater precaution about distancing,” she said outside a polling station.

Moon’s progressive camp is on track to secure up to 177 seats in the 300-member, single-chamber parliament. The conservative main opposition party is expected to win as many as 131 seats, according to exit polls. mdash; Reuters