Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Vote for Me

Vans mounted with loudspeakers cruising around our area are a regular feature of the local area, especially every five days when it's market day (why they couldn't make it a weekly market is beyond me but I'm sure there's some logic to it). But in the last two weeks the number of these mobile PA systems seems to have increased enormously, which transpires to be due to a Busan-wide election which was held today.

This is not, however, an election for political office - but rather for the position of city eduction chief ('Superintendent of Educational Affairs'), which would not be a publicly elected position back in the UK, where governments and local councils prefer as little transparency as possible with activities they consider to be bureaucratic or non-political. So it came as a surprise to see what a big deal people seemed to be making out of the event. Aside from the election trucks, we've had leaflets delivered to the apartment on each candidate, whose posters and banners are plastered on the side of buildings locally - and presumably the rest of the city. Apparently, it's the first time this post has been an elected position though, so perhaps that's why there was particular enthusiasm.

The education chief sets budgets and an annual plan, decides on school openings and closures, sets rules for schools, and even has scope to add to the educational curriculum (excluding universities) within Busan, so to be fair the choice of candidate could have a significant impact on many people within the city.

Voting - even for this election - is considered so much of a civic duty by some that Korean Father even considered returning from Namhae where he's been for the last week looking after his parents, although he eventually elected not to.

The result's already in and the incumbent won - candidate number one on the left in the picture above. Probably hardly a surprise in the circumstances - and I know that candidates that are first on a ballot paper usually have an additional advantage. But it turns out that not so many people felt it was a civic duty after all - the turnout was 15.3%.

Personally I'm wondering what the elections for council or national elections are going to be like if this is how much fuss is made over the education post.

Oh - and the slogan on the van reads - "Your precious vote will change the educational future of Busan".

No comments:

Post a Comment