April 14, 2016 10:03
The Saenuri Party lost its a majority in the National Assembly in Wednesday's general elections for the first time in 16 years.
The new People's Party established in January fared well especially in South Jeolla Province, consolidating its position as a third force.
But the real surprise was that the Minjoo Party shrugged off internal rifts in the run-up to the elections and performed much better than expected in the Seoul metropolitan region. Saenuri won 122 out of 300 seats and Minjoo 123.
The People's Party won 38 seats, enough to give it a bargaining position in the National Assembly. Despite sweeping the capital, Minjoo lost in its traditional stronghold of South Jeolla Province.
Saenuri won only 35 out of 122 seats in the Seoul metropolitan area to Minjoo's 82 and the People's Party's five, a humiliating defeat in the key region, while struggling in its traditional stronghold of South Gyeongsang Province, surrendering 17 out of 65 seats to opposition or independent candidates.
For the first time in 20 years the ruling party's traditional support base disintegrated, and its presidential hopefuls now face an uphill struggle. Among them are party leader Kim Moo-sung, who is expected to resign over the poor showing, and former Seoul mayor Oh Se-hoon, who lost in the key Jong-no district of Seoul.
The results are seen as a thumbs-down for the Park Geun-hye administration. One key official in the ruling camp said, "The government is now set to be dragged around by the opposition, and there are no credible presidential hopefuls left."
Voter turnout was a relatively healthy 58 percent with 24.4 million out of 42 million eligible voters casting their ballots. That was 3.8 percentage points higher than in the last general elections in 2012.
South Jeolla Province saw the highest turnout with 63.7 percent, and Seoul 59.8 percent.
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