Oh Se-hoon (C) of the conservative People Power Party defeated his Democratic Party opponent to become mayor of Seoul Photo: POOL/AFP
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Crushing poll defeats for South Korea's ruling party

7 Comments

South Korea's conservative opposition won landslide victories in elections for the mayors of the country's two biggest cities, results showed Thursday, in a bad sign for Moon Jae-in's Democratic Party a year before the next presidential poll.

Both Democratic-held posts became vacant last year as a result of sexual harassment allegations, with Seoul mayor Park Won-soon killing himself while the leader of the southern port of Busan resigned.

Between them, the two municipalities account for around a quarter of the national population and the vote was seen as a significant barometer of public opinion ahead of the March 2022 presidential election.

In Seoul, Oh Se-hoon of the conservative People Power Party defeated his Democratic opponent by 57.5 percent to 39.2 percent, according to the National Election Commission, winning all the city's 25 districts.

Oh pledged to "embrace the many citizens of Seoul who are in pain".

The conservatives' margin of victory in Busan was even higher, at 62.7 percent to 34.4 percent.

Moon and his Democratic Party have been struggling with plummeting ratings in recent months amid public outrage over soaring housing prices, deepening inequality, and corruption and sex abuse scandals involving senior officials.

"I solemnly accept the people's reprimand," Moon said, according to the presidential spokesperson, promising: "I will lower myself and carry out state affairs with a much heavier sense of responsibility."

The two new mayors will serve out the remaining 14 months of their predecessors' four-year terms.

It was the first time turnout at local elections had exceeded 50 percent, the commission added.

Moon -- who is limited to a single term by South Korea's constitution -- saw his approval ratings plunge to a record-low 32 percent last week, with 58 percent disapproving of the job he is doing, according to a survey by Gallup Korea.

The latest vote result is in stark contrast to the parliamentary elections one year ago, when the Democratic Party enjoyed a sweeping victory that gave it a super-majority in the National Assembly.

© 2021 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


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Moon -- who is limited to a single term by South Korea's constitution -- saw his approval ratings plunge to a record-low 32 percent last week, with 58 percent disapproving of the job he is doing, according to a survey by Gallup Korea.

Not enough time to get anything substantial done; on the other hand, enough time to do substantial damage?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

S. Korea seems to swing back and forth between social and foreign policy conservatives that take a harder line on the North and progressives. One wonders if there is no middle ground in the ROK.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Happy to see South Korea is changing!

"Crushing poll defeats for South Korea's ruling party"

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"One wonders if there is no middle ground in the ROK." At least power changes hands there every so often...

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Had a degree of hope for Moon when he was elected but alas he and his party have proven to be a disaster for SK. Between licking the a*se of fat boy and royalty screwing the property market for ordinary Koreans they have demonstrated a disregard for democracy, the rule of law and their own constitution that you would only expect in a dictatorship. At least his predecessor was only corrupt.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The former 2 mayors were involved in sexual misconduct, which was the major factor why the ruling party was defeated. The Moon administration has performed well in many areas such as economy and COVID-19, but there still are many drawbacks. Democracy is not to elect the best, but to avoid the worst.

We call a country democratic if the ruling party has been replaced by peaceful election at least 3 times. The LDP has lost its ruling-party status just once since 1955, and it is hard to call Japan a democratic state. S. Korea has changed the ruling party at least 3 times even counting since 1987.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Moon promised what only Kim could deliver, mortgaging his future to the whims of Pyongyang. Kim played him like a fiddle.

Although a one season rule for leaders isn't a bad idea, it promotes overpromising to get into power. There is no incentive to deliver when you are certain that you will be sacked (or imprisoned, historically) at the end of your term.

SK will endlessly yo-yo between progressives and conservatives (as the sitting government will always fail enough to merit being voted out). Both will play the nationalist card as required. That will poison any alliance with Japan even though it would suit both nations, given the situation with NK and China. As they will be unable to get along, both will have to work a lot harder at the difficult balancing act of keeping both their US protectors and China sweet.

Both JP and SK have a similar problem - traditionalist cultural structures that promote and mainstream abuse, making reform - political, economic and social, very difficult. And both are willing martyrs to their own history, endlessly stirring up past grudges to win a few votes.

Ironically, as Western governments pivot to the Chinese way of doing things, 'taking back control' of their borders, internet and citizens, despite all of the above, SK and JP will appear increasingly enticing, simply by remaining pretty much as they are, as the West slides downhill.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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