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South Koreans went to polls to elect a new parliament in the only national referendum during President Yoon Suk Yeol’s term, which will determine how much power he will have for his remaining three years in office.

Voting runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday for all 300 seats in the unicameral parliament known as the National Assembly. Yoon’s conservative People Power Party is trying to flip more than 30 seats to gain the majority now held by the progressive camp led by the main opposition Democratic Party. 

Exit polls released soon after voting closes may indicate the general trends in the election and final results may not be known until Thursday. As of noon local time, voter turnout stood at 49.78%, including those who cast ballots in early voting last week, according to Yonhap News. This is higher than 45.89% at the same point in the previous elections in 2020, it said.

Of the 300 seats, 254 are settled by direct elections in constituencies and the rest are allotted by proportional representation. The term of office for National Assembly members is four years.

The most likely scenario is for the Democratic Party-led bloc to keep its majority, with a few spots being flipped on the margins that do not dramatically upend the status quo. This would mean continued gridlock for the remainder of Yoon’s term and compromise between the groups on key items such as the budget. 

It could force the government to rely on administrative orders to push through policies such as tax incentives and spending cuts, Citi Research analysts Kim Jin-Wook and Choi Jiuk said in a report.

If the Democratic party-led bloc reaches 200 seats, it can override any presidential veto and approve impeachment measures, effectively hobbling and perhaps even ending Yoon’s government.

Should the PPP-bloc claim a majority, it is looking to reduce regulations on businesses, take on labor unions, and cut taxes for companies and on real estate transactions. 

Read more: South Korea Election Hinges on Urban Voters, Inflation Worry

Polling indicates the top issues for voters are tackling inflation eating into paychecks, reining in housing prices and providing strength for the country’s export-driven and slowing economy. A prolonged walkout by trainee doctors upset over plans to increase medical school seats also clouds the race, with surveys indicating the public is growing tired of the labor dispute even though it sides with Yoon’s plan to add more doctors.

In one of the last major polls released ahead of the vote, support was 37% for the PPP ahead of 29% for the main opposition Democratic Party. The Rebuilding Korea Party, a new group that looks set to align itself with the progressive Democratic Party, was in third place at 12%, according to the survey from Gallup Korea. 

(Updates with turnout level in paragraph three.)

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