South Korea’s liberal opposition, bolstered by the under-40s and power of social media, could spring a surprise win in this week’s parliamentary elections despite opinion polls that show it tied with the ruling conservatives. Experts say traditional pollsters base their projections on owners of fixed telephone lines, whereas people in their 20s and 30s, who form 37 percent of the voting population in the world’s most wired country, rarely use them. The young, more likely to carry a Samsung Galaxy or Apple iPhone in their pockets, are mostly liberal and their views are expressed and spread online, often by their smartphones.
“Views expressed in cyberspace are about 20 percent favourable to us and 80 percent against,” said Lee Jun-seok, a 27-year old Harvard-educated computer expert brought in to help revamp the ruling conservative Saenuri Party’s online presence. “It’s almost like as soon as you say something for our party, you come under attack.”
The five most popular politicians on Twitter are all left-wingers. The top conservative is presidential contender Park Geun-hye who ranks eighth with about 180,000 followers, according to Koreantweeters.com, a website on Twitter power. On the other hand, a traditional Realmeter poll taken between March 26-30 showed 39.8 percent support for the ruling conservatives, 30.5 percent support for the main opposition Democrat United Party and 8.1 percent for its coalition partner, the United Progressive Party.