Korea's Candidates Court Older Voters
The Saenuri Party's Park Geun-hye, the Democratic United Party's Moon Jae-in, and liberal independent Ahn Cheol-soo, are ALL promising to raise the retirement age from 57 to 60 while increasing the minimum wage in a bid to court older voters.
All three candidates seem determined to move forward with the plan, as voters in their 50s and 60s have emerged as one of the most important groups in this year's election.
The group represents 40 percent of eligible voters this year, an increase of 10 percent from 10 years ago, according to recent data.
As the aging population grows, the number of voters in the under 40 age group, has decreased by 10 percent in the same period.
And with Korea's life expectancy expected to reach almost 90 years by 2040, there are concerns that the country's shrinking pension program won't be able to support people into their retirement.
Faced with this prospect, those in their 50s and 60s have begun to push for an increase in the retirement age.
But with all three candidates proposing the same policies, experts say that Park may have an advantage over the two liberal candidates, when it comes to support from the older age group.
In most democracies, younger voters tend to vote liberal, while older voters tend to vote conservative.
That may also help to explain WHY the ruling and opposition parties have been at odds, over another major election issue -- extending voting hours.
Just last month, the opposition party proposed to extend voting hours from the current 12-hour period between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m,. by THREE hours until 9 p.m. to increase voter turnout.
The ruling party has rejected the proposal, citing the time and expense involved in implementing such a major change.
And they have a good reason to oppose the change.
Longer voting hours traditionally favor the liberals, because young voters generally tend to vote late,. while older voters tend to cast their ballots early.
Lee Ji-yoon, Arirang News.
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