By Kim Tae-jong
Despite record low voter turnout, the National Assembly election on Wednesday overwhelmed last year's presidential election in terms of scale and records.
The 18th general election will produce 245 district and 54 proportional representation lawmakers through voting at 13,246 polling stations nationwide.
More than 245,000 people will count the ballots, almost three times more than in the race for president. The number of eligible voters was 37.79 million, 6.2 percent higher than the previous general election four years ago.
Under the revised Election Law, 19-year-olds were allowed to vote, and 623,053 did. Previously, only those over 20 were eligible to vote.
With increasingly lower voter turnout, participation is expected to reach 50 percent, far lower than 60.6 percent in the 17th and 57.2 percent in the 16th Assembly elections.
Significance of Vote
Can a few votes make a difference? The answer is ``yes,'' considering previous cases. The narrowest margin ever was three votes, recorded in the 16th general election in 2000.
Park Hyuk-gyu from the Grand National Party won the 2000 election in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, over Moon Hak-jin from the National Democratic Party. Park got 16,675 votes while Moon obtained 16,672. The Supreme Court finally ratified the three-vote victory after litigation filed by the both sides.
Elections are one of the toughest challenges for politicians. Three have won the general election nine times. They are former President Kim Young-sam, former Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil and former Assembly Speaker Park Joon-kyu.
At the 17th general election, a record number of 188 members of the National Assembly were newly elected ― 109 from the former governing Uri Party.
Each candidate has spent about 186 million won ($186,000) on average, much of which came from supporters who were allowed to donate up to 5 million won to one candidate, and up to 20 million won to different candidates yearly.