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Korean and French Presidential Elections: Women's issues tackled during the campaigns (May 6, 2017)

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The year 2017 is politically important all around the world. Especially on May there were presidential elections in France and South Korea. Following the political atmosphere, ACHRS had a seminar on the elections of France and South Korea presented respectively by Mrs. Jung and Mr. Laur. The purpose of this seminar is to present the particular context, proposals and debates on women issues during electoral periods.

 In South Korea, 19th presidential election was held in May 9. The presidency remained empty since March because of the corruption scandal of the former president. Thus, even though the presidential election is normally held in December, it is held in May as a by-election.  Fifteen candidates were registered and five of them were the main competitors. 

Sim, the most progressive candidate among the five, strongly insisted women’s rights with the slogan ‘Don’t Worry. Follow Your Dream.’ She had many specific pledges on women’s issue such as revocation of abortion crime and supporting immigrated women from South-East Asia. Also, she suggested radical reformation ideas on maternity leave which was a controversial matter in this election.

Moon, the moderate progressive candidate, ensured females that he will surely take care of gender equality by establishing presidential committee in charge of women’s issue. Additionally, he pointed out some specific issues such as hidden camera crime and prostitution industry.

Ahn, the neutral candidate, made a promise on female quarter within national parliament up to 30% following the OECD average, which is currently 17%. Yoo, the moderate conservative candidate, did not show special interest on women’s issue. He mentioned about child-bearing industry but the focus was more on the industry rather than women’s rights. Hong, the far right candidate, he did not have any pledges on women’s rights. On the contrary, he was attacked from the left side as he said in public that ‘Men must not enter the kitchen.’

After the presentation of the Korean system and the Korean presidential elections, the participants were able to attend a second presentation, about the French Presidential elections.

As an introduction, the context of these elections was introduced, particularly because of the surprising result of the Republican and the Socialist primaries, but also because of the consolidation or the raise of new movements, such as Front National (National Front), Les Insoumis (Rebellious) and En Marche! (moving ahead).

 Then, after a brief presentation of the five main candidates, a presentation of their proposals concerning women was made. We will just quickly summarize some of the leadings or innovative proposals of each candidates.

 Benoît Hamon, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Emmanuel Macron for example, want to introduce the concept of parity (equality in number between men and women) in high level administration, and not only in politics. About representations in politics, Jean-Luc Mélenchon wanted to implement the perfect equality in government and parliament in the new constitution that he was willing to do. On wage equality, Hamon and Macron proposed to introduce a name and shame concept, with the publications of the name of the firms which do not respect the law, to create bad advertisement.  About violence, François Fillon was the only one eager to introduce ineligibility for parliamentarians guilty of sexist behavior. Hamon was the only candidates willing to increase the paternity leave, with 11 compulsory days. The two leftist candidates were also eager to develop assisted reproductions for all, and not only for medical reasons.

 Last but not least, Marine Le Pen presents herself as the most in favour of women. However, she considers, about wage equality and political representations, that the actuals law are inefficient. She is against affirmative action because she considers that it is a kind of discrimination. Moreover, the question of islamic fundamentalism is central in her program. She considers that hijab reduces liberty of women, and that it is most of the time pressures of the family. Thus, she want to ban hijab in public space to free women.

 To conclude, an observation of the perspectives for the second round was made.

After both presentation, a discussion take place around these elections. Thus, it was possible to develop some topics as the functioning of the Korean system or the changing political context in France, particularly with the collapse of the established party.

Prepared by Hun Sun Jung and Etienne Laur