Korea’s presidential candidates have been announced after the National Assembly impeached the former President Park Geun-hye, and the election date was set to be May 9th, 2017. As the election is taking place ahead of schedule, public attention has been increased. The Dongguk Post interviewed with international students about other nations’ election cultures and it will be interesting and helpful to understand current Korea’s election culture.
Baev Aleksey (Left) / Bolshovkova Anastevslia (Right)
Q. Tell us about the process of the presidential election in Russia.
A. In our country, there are some candidates and we can just choose among them, and vote for the one. That is all. The election is held for one day in the whole country. On this date, people go to special places previously organized for voting half a week before the election day such as schools, universities, and other places like hospitals. In order to join the election, people go into the election booth where nobody can see what is happening inside so that it can ensure secrecy. Then they make a mark near to the name of the candidate they want to choose on the card called ballot and put it in the box. The boxes go to the administration in Moscow, the number of cards indicating each candidates is counted, and the result is announced.
Q. How can Russians living in other countries join the presidential election?
A. In case of Russians living in other countries, like us, we can join the election freely in the Russian embassy in every country during the election. However, we cannot obtain information on the candidates as others living in Russia can do, because there is not an administrative system for us to receive any kind of sourcebook containing candidate introductions and their pledges. We should find out through the internet by ourselves.
Q. How do the candidates promote themselves in Russia?
A. There is a huge promotion campaign which starts a couple of months before the voting day. We can see the promotion on television in a form of advertisements saying, “If you vote for me, I will solve this problem,” and there are also debating programs where candidates meet and discuss some issues so that people can understand who is a good candidate or not. The candidates also visit different regions of Russia and make some speeches about why people need to choose them. In addition, they give some fliers to people near the subway station, and we can see the advertisements of the candidates in the newspapers and banners on roads and highways. These things remind us that it is election time now.
Q. How much do Russians pay attention to politics?
A. People seem to be quite interested in politics especially during the election period, but the interest is not as big as we can see because only 40 to 50 percent of people vote. Since some people think certain candidates will be the president for sure, they think their voice is meaningless. Moreover, in terms of the people’s age, those who are in their 40s are more interested in the politics compared to 20s and 30s in Russia.
Q. Can you tell us about French elections?
A. Interestingly, France also has the presidential election on 23rd of April, so I can tell you more in depth about the French election. In France, we vote twice for the president. There are 11 president candidates this year and on the first election, which takes place on April 23rd, all candidates are pitted against each other. Then, the top two candidates get votes in the second election, which is two weeks after the first one. The law states that if one of the candidates gets more than 50 percent of votes, the next election would not take place. However, it has never happened.
Another interesting thing of the French election is that elections are always held on Sundays. This is because Catholicism is the dominant religion in France, so people think the candidates can get more blessed by god if the election is on Sunday.
Q. How do citizens abroad get information on candidates and vote?
A. Citizens abroad normally get the collected pledges of each candidate by mail, but unfortunately, as an exchange student, it is hard to get them because my residence is unstable. People who live in foreign countries can vote at the French embassy. We used to vote through the Internet, but the government has dropped plans to let us vote electronically because of concern about the risk of cyber attacks.
Q. What is the voting method in France?
A. The elections take place in public places such as gymnasiums and schools. As we get in the polling station, we receive papers with each candidate’s name written on, as well as an envelope. We enter the isolation booth, where nobody can see, and put the appropriate paper into the envelope. After that, we need to show our identity card or document to the officials and put the envelope into the ballot box.
Q. Do many French people pay attention to politics?
A. Not that many people are willing to vote because they think they cannot make a big change by voting. However, the young generation is more passionate in voting since they are the ones who will lead the country in the future. In addition, a new generation of politicians has been trying to attract younger people in the last five years. The politicians tend to insist on specific pledges especially for the youths.
As we can see through the interview above, there are various election cultures. Russia holds presidential election in similar process with Korea, which elects the president by following majority decision with one-day voting. On the other hand, French election culture has a unique trait that they conduct the election twice if any candidates do not record more than half of the vote in the first time. In addition, the youth in France are more active than the older generation regarding politics. Although there are some similarities and differences in the election process among many countries, it is obvious that people pay attention to the politics especially during the election period than normal times. Therefore, we should show our thoughts in national politics by casting our valuable votes in the election.
Lee Min-jeong, Kim Min-ji email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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