South Korea opposition bloc wins majority of Parliamentary vote

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Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau
WASHINGTON DC, 14th April.
According to the media reports on Friday the main opposition Democratic Party retained a majority in the National Assembly in Wednesday’s general elections in a major setback for the ruling People Power Party and President Yoon Suk Yeol.

The DP won 161 out of 254 directly contested seats, while the PPP won only 90 seats. Including proportional seats, the DP and its satellite party were expected to win 176 seats and the PPP and its satellite party 109 seats in the 300-member National Assembly, media reported.

The wider opposition bloc, including the Rebuilding Korea Party led by scandal-tainted former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, is expected to win more than 180 seats combined, as Cho’s party is expected to secure 12-14 proportional seats.

The New Future Party (Saemirae), formed by former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, and the New Reform Party led by ousted former PPP leader Lee Jun-seok are expected to secure one and three seats, respectively.

The results illustrated the seriously soured public sentiment toward the Yoon administration just two years after he came into office, with the PPP barely managing to prevent the broader opposition bloc from taking a two-thirds majority.

In the elections four years ago, the ruling DP also clinched a landslide victory by securing a combined 180 seats with its satellite party while the United Future Party, the PPP’s former name, and its sister party got 103 seats.

Of the votes cast for the 46 proportional seats, more than 93 per cent have been counted.

The PPP’s sister People Future Party was leading with 37 per cent, followed by the DP’s sister Democratic United Party with 27 per cent and Cho’s Rebuilding Korea Party with 24 per cent.

This year’s vote carried extra weight for the PPP as a failure to regain a majority could potentially render the Yoon administration a lame duck for the remaining three years of his single five-year term, ending in 2027.

The PPP has pleaded for voter support, imploring that the Yoon administration has been unable to push its reform agenda properly forward for the past two years due to the uncooperative Parliament under Opposition control.

The DP, on the other hand, has urged voters to pass stern judgment on what it calls the “incompetent” Yoon administration, accusing it of causing the economy and the livelihoods of the people to worsen seriously and mishandling a series of controversial issues for the past two years.

PPP leader Han Dong-hoon expressed disappointment after the release of the votes

“The PPP did its best to do politics that uphold the will of the people, but the exit poll results are disappointing,” Han said after watching the results at the National Assembly with party members.

“We will watch the results of vote counting until the end.”

Han is set to make an announcement regarding the election outcome later, probably after the final outcome, contrary to the tradition of the party leader making the announcement after yhe voting count.

DP Chairman Lee emphasized that he will stop the regression of the country’s state affairs and make it move toward the future after the announcement of his victory against former Land Minister Won Hee-ryong of the PPP in Incheon’s Gyeyang-B district early Thursday.

Cho, the former Justice Minister, also hailed the exit poll results as a victory for the people.

“The people have won,” Cho said after watching the exit polls Wednesday. “The people have made their intent clear that it is a verdict handed down to the Yoon Suk Yeol government.”

Cho said the results showed that the people can “no longer put up with the regression” of the government, urging Yoon to humbly accept the election outcome.

In Seoul area, the primary battleground that ultimately shapes the election outcome, the DP swept 102 out of 122 constituencies.

The DP also grabbed 53 seats in Gyeonggi Province with 60 seats at stake. The region is traditionally considered a stronghold for the party.

Some PPP candidates emerged victorious in some districts in the region after closely contested races.

In Seoul’s Dongjak-B district, Na Kyung-won of the PPP secured a victory against DP candidate Ryu Sam-young.

Lee Jun-seok, an ousted former leader of the PPP, also secured his first-ever Parliamentary seat in the Hwaseong-B district in Gyeonggi Province.

Voter turnout recorded the highest in 32 years.

According to the National Election Commission, a total of 14,259 polling stations across the nation closed at 6 p.m. Wednesday, after some 29.66 million, or 67 per cent, of the total 44.28 million eligible voters had cast their ballots for 12 hours and the results were tentative.

The turnout was 0.8 percentage point higher than the 2020 tally of 66.2 per cent, marking the highest turnout for general elections since 1992, when the turnout came in at 71.9 per cent.

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