June 04, 2010 11:55
The choice of voters in local elections on Wednesday was largely a warning to President Lee Myung-bak to rethink his policies during the remainder of his term. It was in effect a mid-term referendum on Lee.
The ruling Grand National Party's defeat has made political conditions tougher for the president. Although the GNP won narrow victories in the races for Seoul mayor and governor of surrounding Gyeonggi Province, the ruling party was trumped by the main opposition Democratic Party nationwide. The balance of power in areas outside the capital region has shifted in favor of the opposition. Also, almost half of the country's education superintendents now espouse progressive views. After setting up these offensive lines, the DP launched its first volley when party leader Chung Sye-kyun on Thursday called for the resignation of Lee's Cabinet, a halt to the four-rivers restoration project and the scrapping of the revised Sejong City development plan.
Lee has no choice but to reconsider his agenda. The revised Sejong City development plan has practically been given a death sentence due to the latest votes, while public opposition against the four-rivers restoration project was confirmed once again. Other key policy objectives, including political reforms by revising the Constitution and plans to reform administrative districts, will face tough obstacles in the National Assembly.
The president will have to drop certain goals and make policy changes where necessary so that he can win back the support of the public. Already he has started to fill the GNP, Cabinet and his own office with fresh faces to back him during the remainder of his term.
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