Opposition Sweeps By-Elections in Blow to Ruling Party

  • By Choi Kyung-woon

    April 08, 2021 09:53

    The main opposition People Power Party won landslide victories in mayoral elections in Seoul and Busan on Wednesday as voters dealt a killer blow to President Moon Jae-in and the ruling Minjoo Party.

    The size of the defeat was a shock for the ruling party, which won four elections in a row since 2016.

    Seoul mayor-elect Oh Se-hoon and Busan mayor-elect Park Heong-joon of the People Power Party celebrate with their wives at the party's offices at midnight on Wednesday.

    The MP beat the PPP by more than 10 percentage points in the 2020 general election, but voter sentiment shifted drastically over the past year as the government fumbled vaccine procurement and became engulfed in corruption scandals.

    Oh won 57.50 percent of the votes or some 2.80 million votes in Seoul, leading his opponent, Minjoo Party candidate Park Young-sun, by 18.3 percentage points. In Busan, PPP candidate Park Heong-joon won a whopping 62.67 percent of the votes, leaving Minjoo Party rival Kim Young-choon in the dust with just 34.42 percent. Both Oh and Park won in every single district in their respective city.

    Pundits blamed the MP's humiliating defeat on the government's failed attempts to tame soaring apartment prices, railroading through new laws and hubris.

    Seoul mayor-elect Oh Se-hoon heads to his office at City Hall on Thursday. /Yonhap

    Park Won-ho, a professor at Seoul National University, said, "The PPP's success in trying to make some internal change and fielding a single opposition candidate appears to have swayed voter sentiment."

    The defeat suggests that Moon's lame-duck phase has started with little more than a year left in office.

    The PPP is expected to woo maverick Prosecutor-General Yoon Suk-yeol, who is considered the most promising candidates for president. Yoon quit earlier this year following a drawn-out battle with Moon, who attempted to oust him after a slew of corruption investigations that were getting uncomfortably close to the president.

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