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South Korean NGOs join forces in preparation for the 2007 Presidential Elections

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Civil society organisations in South Korea have launched a campaign to scrutinise and monitor the pledges of Presidential candidates. The candidates must have reasonable, realistic, and reliable pledges instead of focusing solely on criticising their competition.
(Bangkok, 14 December 2007) Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in South Korea have launched a joint campaign for the country’s 17th presidential election. 385 NGOs have coalesced into a group called, “2007 Dae-sun see-min yeon-dae” (“People’s solidarity for 2007 presidential election”), under the theme "Rock the Vote”. The campaign monitors every pledge made by each candidate and educates voters on the feasibility of these pledges.  

The group was formed in August 2007 to monitor the five main candidates. There are two on-going projects: “1,000 Meetings” and “1,000 User-Created Content (UCC)”. For 1,000 Meetings, the group aims to organise 1,000 weekly discussions to be held in various places every Wednesday and online forums until the day of the election. Discussions will analyse the candidates’ pledges in the context of the present needs of Korean society. The 1000 UCC project, on the other hand, is trying to collect 1,000 proposals from the citizens for adoption by the candidates. The proposals are in the form of video clips or UCCs that can be uploaded to the campaign website. Ultimately, the seven best UCCs will be selected and presented for the candidates to apply in their respective platforms. These suggestions and opinions aim for the voices of people to be directly heard and not ignored.

However, analysts predict that this election will record one of the lowest percentages of voter turnout. The high level of disinterest, according to surveys, is due the perception that Lee Myung-bak, the front-runner conservative party candidate, is likely to win the election. Since the campaign has focused more on criticising other candidates, the voters have had little opportunity to learn about the candidates’ platforms.

The NGO coalition has worked to deliver the voters’ proposals as a form of participatory democracy in this election, and urged the candidates to have realistic pledges.