Members of the group Korean Womenlink hold a press conference Tuesday in front of Seoul City Hall to demand gender equality policies before the Wednesday by-election. (Yonhap News)
Exit polls by three South Korean broadcast networks for the Wednesday by-election for Seoul mayor showed an overwhelming lead for People Power Party (PPP) candidate Oh Se-hoon, but stronger support for his Democratic Party opponent Park Young-sun among women in their twenties and under.
Joint exit poll results by the Korea Election Pool (KEP) — combining the three major broadcast networks KBS, MBC and SBS — showed support ratings of 44% for Park and 40.9% for Oh among female voters aged 18 to 29.
The numbers showed stronger support for Park than Oh among women in their twenties and under, in addition to men in their forties, who represent a key support base for the Democratic Party.
In contrast, 72.5% of male voters in their twenties and under said they supported Oh — over three times as many as the 22.2% who supported Park. Similar percentages were seen with voters aged 60 and up.
Another notable trend among women aged twenty and under was their support for “other” candidates, with 15.1% backing candidates from minority parties and independents.
With the Seoul by-election prompted indirectly by a sexual harassment case involving the previous mayor, attitudes on gender issues appear to have had a major impact on support for candidates. Among all voters, women aged twenty and under were the only group in gender and age terms that showed more than 10% support for “other” candidates.
Many of the candidates in the Seoul mayoral by-election were feminists who included gender equality as part of their election platform. They included Shin Ji-hye of the Basic Income Party (#6), Oh Tae-yang of the Mirae Party (#8), Kim Jin-ah of the Women’s Party (#11), Song Myeong-suk of the Progressive Party (#12), and independent Shin Ji-ye (#15).
Three polling organizations took part in the exit polls: Ipsos, Korea Research International and Hankook Research. Between 6 am and 7 pm on April 7, 15,753 voters were surveyed at 50 polling locations in Seoul and 30 in Busan.
By Lee Ji-hye, staff reporter
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