Two days of early voting for the July 30th by-elections has begun.
Those that cast ballots today and tomorrow will help determine the winners in Korea's largest ever by-elections, where 15 parliamentary seats are up for grabs.
Six of the vacant seats are in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do province, and analysts say winning the upper hand in those races may very well determine who won the election overall.
Three opposition candidates bowed out of their respective races on Thursday to circle the wagons around the liberal candidate.
In Seoul's Dongjak-B constituency, considered a barometer of public sentiment in the capital, the ruling party candidate is in the lead.
According to the last opinion poll results released Wednesday, the ruling Saenuri Party candidate Na Kyung-won is in the lead by some 10 percentage points against her Justice Party rival Roh Hoe-chan.
Another district closely being watched is the Suwon-C district in Gyeonggi-do province, where the ruling party's Kim Yong-nam is in a heated race with former opposition leader Sohn Hak-kyu.
Sohn had a slight lead of around 3 percentage points as of Wednesday.
With just a few days to go before the by-elections, the ruling party lashed out at the opposition parties for unifying candidacies.
The main opposition party also stepped up criticism of the ruling party, blaming it for delaying the passage of the special bill on April's ferry tragedy.
The government's failed manhunt for the fugitive owner of the Sewol-ho ferry, Yoo Byung-eun has also been a focal point of the opposition's campaign.
Despite the contentious issues, analysts don't expect a clear winner to emerge in these by-elections, much like in local elections in June.
Connie Kim, Arirang News.