South Korea: Moon’s party defeats mayoral election

The Conservative opposition People’s Power Party has won a landslide victory in the mayoral votes of the country’s two largest cities, Seoul and Busan.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party suffered a crushing defeat in the election of mayors for the country’s two largest cities, with results released Thursday amid political scandals and policy mistakes.

With less than a year to go before Wednesday’s March 9 presidential election, the key barometer of possible political change for Moon’s progressive party has been widely seen.

Both mayoral positions held by members of the Democratic Party fell vacant last year as a result of allegations of sexual harassment, with Seoul Mayor Park On-soon killing himself, when the leader of South Africa’s Bushan resigned.

Among them, the two municipalities account for about a quarter of the national population

In Seoul, the conservative People’s Power Party’s Oh Se-Hun defeated his Democratic opponent by 57.55 percent to 39.2 percent, the National Election Commission said, winning 25 districts in the city.

“I can’t hold back the heavy responsibility that I really have in my mind,” Oh said.

The ruling Democratic Party’s mayoral candidate, Park Young-san (center), lost the by-election to his conservative opponent. [Photo by Jung Yeon-je /AFP]

In Busan, People’s Party candidate Park Hyung-jun received 622.7 percent of the vote, giving Democrat Kim Young-chun 34.4 percent.

According to the commission, for the first time, the turnout was 56.2 per cent in Sylhet and 52.7 per cent in Busan.

The two new mayors will serve the remaining 14 months of their predecessors ’four-year term.

‘Public rebuke’

Moon and his Democratic Party have been battling rating ratings in recent months amid public outrage over rising house prices, increased inequality and corruption and sexual abuse scandals involving senior officials.

In a statement, the ruling party said it “politely accepts the public’s attitude towards the election results”, adding: “We have caused widespread public frustration because of our shortcomings.”

In a separate statement, Moon said he had received “reprimands” from the public.

According to Kong Min-seok, a spokesman for the president’s palace, the president promised him “a humble demeanor and a heavy sense of responsibility.”

Moon was further quoted as saying that he would focus his efforts on overcoming the COVID-19 crisis, reviving the economy and meeting the “desperate demands” of the people, including the eradication of corruption.

A Gallup Korea survey found that Moon – who was limited to a single term in the South Korean constitution – dropped his approval rating below 32 percent last week, a Gallup Korea survey found he was doing 58 years of work that he rejected.

The results of the latest vote are in stark contrast to the parliamentary elections a year ago, when the Democratic Party enjoyed a landslide victory that gave it an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly.

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