Yoon to face big hurdle after election defeat

By HYUN-YI LEE Posted : April 11, 2024, 16:11 Updated : April 18, 2024, 18:04
윤석열 대통령이 9일 인천시 해경전용부두에 정박 중인 해경 3005함에서 열린 꽃게철 불법조업 단속 현장 점검에서 모두발언하고 있다 사진연합뉴스
 President Yoon Suk Yeol [YONHAP PHOTO]
SEOUL, April 11 (AJU PRESS) - The main opposition Democratic Party won a landslide victory in Wednesday's general elections, beating the ruling People Power Party. The DP swept 175 out of 254 seats up for grabs, which is expected to boost its number to nearly 200 in the 300-seat National Assembly when combined with proportional seats won by its affiliated party and other splinter groups, giving it comfortable majority.

Out of the 122 constituencies in the Seoul metropolitan areas, the DP won 102 seats while the PPP managed the paltry 19 seats. The DP candidates including its party leader Lee Jae-myung won in most of tightly-contested areas except the PPP's traditional stronghold of Gyeogsang provinces. Ex-Justice Minister Cho Kuk, who has hastily formed his own party named the Rebuilding Korea Party amidst ongoing legal proceedings over academic fraud involving his children and other irregularities, brought an unexpected twist by securing a dozen proportional seats. This lays the groundwork for forming a broader opposition bloc, a rare feat for such a nascent political entity.

Wednesday's elections which came just two years into President Yoon Suk Yeol's term were also a confidence vote on his leadership, but the PPP only managed to secure around 108 seats at most including those of its affiliated party, indicating Yoon may face challenges in pushing through any policies and could end up a lame duck.

During a press conference on Thursday, presidential chief of staff Lee Kwan-seop quoted Yoon as expressing his intent to "humbly accept the will of the people" and to strive towards administrative reform while improving people's livelihoods."

Shocked by the defeat, the PPP has descended into chaos with Prime Minister Han Duck-soo offering his resignation. Following suit, Yoon's close aide Han Dong-hoon who led the PPP as interim leader also resigned. Han said in a press conference in Seoul on Thursday, "I solemnly accept the will of the people and deeply reflect on myself. I take full responsibility for the election results and step down."
Han Dong-hoon holds a press conference to announce his resignation as the People Power Party interim leader at the National Assembly in Seoul on Thursday YONHAP PHOTO
Han Dong-hoon holds a press conference to announce his resignation as the People Power Party interim leader, at the National Assembly in Seoul on Thursday. [YONHAP PHOTO]
Han seemingly enjoyed massive support by promising to reform traditional politics during the early campaigning period but failed to resonate with voters, who were apparently unimpressed by the lack of a clear vision or distinctive policies. Moreover, economic recovery remains elusive amidst high inflation and the prolonged standoff with medical professionals over healthcare reforms made the situation even worse.

Insiders from the ruling camp said, "It looks like a tough road ahead for Yoon and it would be difficult for him to push through his reform plans and other tasks over the remaining three years of his term, without compromise with the opposition."

Cho's RKP openly hinted at the impeachment of Yoon during the election campaign and it remains to be seen if the party's victory enough to win a bargaining position in the National Assembly could affect his pending legal battle and political career.

Meanwhile, Wednesday's general elections saw a bumper turnout of 67 percent, the highest in 32 years. The National Election Commission said out of 44.28 million eligible voters, 29.66 million cast their ballots.
기사 이미지 확대 보기