SEOUL, July 28 (Xinhua) -- South Koreans are heading to polls Wednesday for parliament by-elections seen as a key barometer of the public sentiment regarding the government's performances after the ruling party's crucial defeat in local elections last month.
The elections will fill eight parliamentary posts that have been left vacant, and are expected to have a crucial impact on South Korea's divisive political landscape and possibly affect President Lee Myung-bak's plan for a Cabinet reshuffle.
The ruling Grand National Party suffered an embarrassing setback in the June 2 local elections just as the president starts out the second half of his single five-year stint. The liberal main opposition Democratic Party emerged victorious from the local elections said to be the biggest in history.
If the Grand Nationals lose the by-elections, Lee's ambitious projects, such as a four-river restoration plan and economic reforms, would encounter another obstacle that might further dim the ruling party's chances of winning the general elections and the presidential elections in 2013. The voting will continue till 08:00 p.m. local time.