S Korea parties step up attacks in final leg of by-election campaigns

The ruling and opposition parties engaged in all-out efforts on Monday to garner support in the by-elections with each side calling on voters to pass judgment on the other.

The ruling Saenuri Party concentrated on constituencies in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, where opposition candidates have formed alliances for Wednesday's by-elections.

The ruling party opened the day by holding its supreme council meeting in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, where its candidate Yoo Eui-dong is in a tight race with Jung Jang-sun of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy.

At the meeting party chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung once again concentrated on his party's connection to the administration and its drive to revive the economy in concert with the government.

"The Saenuri Party needs to secure the stable majority in the parliament in order for economic revival and national innovation bills to gain momentum," Kim said, referring to the Park Geun-hye administration's economic and reform plans.

Kim also highlighted the de facto alliance formed by opposition candidates in key constituencies including Seoul's Dongjak-B, and two constituencies in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.

Although the NPAD and the minor opposition Justice Party claim that the alliances were formed by the candidates on their own accord, the conservatives have attacked the move as political collusion.

"The core issue in the elections is whether to elect a candidate who will develop the region or a candidate marred by collusion and the old ways," Kim said.

The ruling party followed up the meeting and rally in Pyeongtaek by taking to the streets of Seoul's Dongjak-gu en masse to support Na Kyung-won, who is running in the Dongjak-B constituency.

Na's main rival in the race is the Justice Party's Roh Hoe-chan, who absorbed the campaign of the NPAD's Ki Dong-min. Roh, who is seen as having a chance of beating Na, was supported by NPAD heavyweight Rep. Moon Jae-in as well as his own party with less than two days left in the campaign period.

Meanwhile the NPAD's leaders took to Gyeonggi Province constituencies in an attempt to whip up support for the party's candidates.

Starting from Gimpo to support former South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Du-kwan's campaign, NPAD cochairman Rep. Kim Han-gil went on to tour the Pyeongtaek-B, Suwon-C and Suwon-D constituencies.

"The Saenuri Party claimed that it will transform (itself) from head to toe, and President Park Geun-hye promised to make a new Korea but it has been revealed that these were all false promises," Kim said at the supreme council meeting held in Gimpo, accusing the government and ruling party of failing to achieve changes since the April 16 ferry disaster.

"Korea is collapsing one and a half years into the Park Geun-hye administration, and I think that you the voters should sound a strong alarm for the Saenuri Party and Cheong Wa Dae with your votes."

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)