Politics

South Korea’s ruling party loses Seoul’s key mayoral election

Seoul, Apr 8 (efe-epa).- The candidate of South Korea’s main opposition party has won a landslide victory over his opponent from the ruling Democratic Party (DP) in Seoul’s mayoral elections, seen as a barometer of the South Korean presidential election next year.

Oh Se-hoon, from the conservative People Power Party (PPP), won 57.5 percent of the votes compared to 39 percent secured by the second-most voted candidate, Park Young-sun, of the DP, in the elections held on Wednesday in the South Korean capital, according to the final data released by the National Electoral Commission on Thursday.

In Busan, the country’s second largest city, which also held polls to elect a new mayor, the result was even more painful for the ruling party of President Moon Jae-in, as PPP candidate Park Heong-joon won with 63 percent of the votes compared to 34 percent garnered by the DP’s Kim Young-choon.

Elections for 19 other local posts were also held on Wednesday, of which 13 went to the PPP.

The outcome broke the winning streak of the ruling party, which had posted decisive wins in the last four major electoral events in the country, the legislative elections of 2016 and 2020, the local elections of 2018 and the presidential elections of 2017, won by Moon, whose term ends early next year.

Moon described the defeat as a “reprimand” from South Koreans and said he will conclude his term with “humble demeanor and heavy sense of responsibility,” focusing on economic recovery and the stabilization of the real estate market, the presidential spokesperson, Kang Min-seok, said at a press conference.

Almost a quarter of the South Korean population was called to vote in these polls and, especially in Seoul, where 10 million people live, these elections are viewed as a barometer of public opinion ahead of the presidential elections in March 2022.

The by-elections come at a time when the approval ratings for Moon and his DP have fallen to record lows due to soaring housing prices and a scandal about real estate speculation involving officials.

The elections were held earlier than scheduled after the liberal mayors of both cities, Park Won Soon in Seoul and Oh Keo-don in Busan, were involved in cases of alleged sexual harassment.

Park reportedly committed suicide in July last year in the wake of sexual harassment allegations by a city council official, while Oh resigned almost a year ago after a female staffer publicly stated that he had harassed her during a meeting, an allegation to which the former mayor admitted. EFE-EPA

asb/pd/tw

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