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South Korea midterm election: Opposition wins landslide parliamentary vote in resounding blow to President Yoon Suk Yeol

Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Seoul election officials sort ballots at a counting station after this week’s parliamentary elections concluded.

Seoul, South Korea – South Korea’s liberal opposition parties won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections held Wednesday, dealing a blow to President Yoon Suk Yeol and his conservative party but falling short of a majority majority.

The Democratic Party (DP) is expected to win more than 170 of the 300 seats in the new legislature, according to data from the National Election Commission and TV stations, with more than 99% of votes counted as of 5:55 a.m. Thursday (5:55 p.m. ET Wednesday). ).

A breakaway liberal party seen as allied to the PD is expected to win at least 10 seats, according to projections.

“When the voters chose me, it was your judgment against the Yoon Suk Yeol administration and you give the Democratic Party the duty to take responsibility for the people’s livelihood and create a better society,” he said. said DP leader Lee Jae-myung.

Lee won a seat in the city of Incheon, west of the capital Seoul, against a strong conservative candidate seen as a major ally of the president.

The hotly contested race was seen by some analysts as a referendum on Yoon, whose popularity has suffered from a cost-of-living crisis and a series of political scandals.

“Judgment” was the recurring theme of comments from opposition victors, many of whom had campaigned largely on what they saw as Yoon’s mismanagement of the economy and his refusal to acknowledge that his wife had acted inappropriately when she accepted a Dior bag as a gift.

First lady Kim Keon Hee has not been seen in public since Dec. 15 and was absent when Yoon voted, reflecting the view of some analysts and opposition party members that she had become a serious political liability for the president and his PPP.

His People Power Party (PPP) was expected to win just over 100 seats, meaning Yoon would avoid the supermajority of two-thirds opposition control that could override presidential vetoes and pass constitutional amendments.

But as the first two years of his constitutionally authorized single five-year term neared, Yoon risked sliding into lame duck status, some analysts said.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) is expected to announce official results later on Thursday. Nearly 29.7 million people, or 67% of eligible voters, voted, according to the NEC.

It was the highest turnout ever recorded for a parliamentary election, although the numbers were down from the 2022 presidential vote that narrowly brought Yoon to power.

SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Lee Jae-myung, head of the Democratic Party, watches the election results at his district office in Incheon, South Korea, Thursday, April 11, 2024.

Yoon, who took office in May 2022, was not a candidate for election this time, but his ability to pass laws is likely to be seriously undermined by his PPP’s poor performance.

He has suffered poor ratings for months, hamstrung in implementing his pledges to cut taxes, ease business regulations and expand support for families in the world’s most rapidly aging society.

Mason Richey, a Hankuk University professor of foreign studies, said Yoon could now focus more on his overseas program, although those plans could also be at risk if the opposition seeks to cut budgets with its majority .

“Given his likely lame duck status, the temptation for Yoon will be to focus on foreign policy where he will still have statutory power,” Richey said.

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News Source : amp.cnn.com

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