South Korean ruling party sweeps general elections

Seoul, Apr 16 (efe-epa).- South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party has obtained a landslide absolute majority in parliament, results of the general election marked by coronavirus crisis restrictions showed Thursday.

With 96 percent of Wednesday’s vote counted, President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party and its sister Platform Party were poised to get 180 of the 300-seat National Assembly, according to National Election Commission data.

The main opposition bloc, made up of the conservative United Future Party and its sister Future Party, looked set to secure 103 seats, a setback that resulted in the resignation of its leader, former prime minister and ex-interim president Hwang Kyo-ahn, on Wednesday night.

This is the first parliamentary majority that the liberals have achieved in 16 years in elections held under strict measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The voter turnout of 66.2 percent was also the highest since the 1992 general elections.

The polls were able to go ahead due to the fact that the government has managed to control the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea which, for more than a week has recorded only around 30 new infections daily, with almost 75 percent of the more than 10,600 people infected with the virus already discharged.

Since detecting the first major COVID-19 outbreak in late February, South Korea has gone from being the country with the second largest number of cases in the world to flattening its infection curve in just three weeks thanks to a program that combined massive testing of suspected cases, comprehensive tracing and widespread hospitalization.

That is why these elections, which are held every four years and serve to measure support for the president in office (elected every five years), have been interpreted primarily as a referendum on the Moon government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Before the virus was detected in South Korea in late January, the approval ratings of Moon, in power since 2017, had been far from solid due to corruption scandals in his party, and economic woes.

However, his administration’s handling of the current crisis has enabled him to restore public support and achieve a parliamentary majority that will cement his power and allow him to govern virtually unopposed until the end of his term in 2022. EFE-EPA


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