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S.Koreans begin voting in local elections, parliamentary by-elections

SEOUL, June 13 (Xinhua) -- South Korean people began voting early Wednesday in local elections and parliamentary by-elections in what appeared to be a confidence vote on the government of President Moon Jae-in.

The seventh round of quadrennially-held local elections and by-elections to fill 12 vacant parliamentary seats started at 14,134 polling stations nationwide, according to the National Election Commission. It would last for 12 hours to 6 p.m. local time (0900 GMT).

The local elections would select a total of 4,016 local administrative, legislative and educational posts, including 17 provincial governorships and metropolitan mayoralties.

Among the total eligible voters of 42.9 million, 20.14 percent already participated in the early voting that ran from Friday to Saturday. It was nearly double the 11.5 percent turnout tallied in the previous local elections.

The ruling Democratic Party was widely forecast to win a landslide victory in the elections amid solid public support for Moon's peace drive on the Korean Peninsula and Moon's high approval rating that has hovered above 70 percent since he took office in May last year.

Moon held a summit meeting twice on April 27 and May 26, respectively, with top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un, agreeing to complete denuclearization of the peninsula and the turn of the current armistice agreement into a peace treaty by the end of this year.

Kim met U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore Tuesday for the first-ever DPRK-U.S. summit, in which the leaders agreed to complete denuclearization of the peninsula in exchange for security guarantees of the DPRK.

The conservative main opposition Liberty Korea Party was expected to lose a lot of seats in local and parliamentary elections as it criticized Moon's peace drive and had yet to sincerely apologize for the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, Moon's predecessor, over a corruption scandal.

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