The conservative opposition was utterly wiped out as candidates from the ruling Democratic Party (DP) easily won across all 4,016 gubernatorial, mayoral, district administrations and assemblies, education chief posts up for grabs as well as the by-election for 12 vacancies in the legislative in Wednesday elections that followed up a historic summit between the United States and North Korea, a match-making credited to President Moon Jae-in.
The DP grabbed 14 out of 17 major mayoral and gubernatorial seats while the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) won only two seats in Daegu City and North Gyeongsang Province, the biggest polarization since nationwide local elections began in 1995. The splinter center-right Bareunmirae Party and center-left Democracy and Peace did not add any seats in the 17 key races or 12 by-election. Turnout was 60.2 percent, the highest in 23 years.
DP candidates swept the race in Seoul and surrounding areas, marking the first solid liberal leadership in the country’s core constituencies. Incumbent Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon (52.8 percent) easily defeated LKP rival Kim Moon-soo by a wide margin to make him set for the longest-serving mayor of Seoul by filling the third four-year term, a legal limit in the public office title.
In the most controversial Gyeonggi Province gubernatorial competition, former Seongnam mayor Lee Jae-myung (56.4 percent) unseated LKP`s contender and most recent governor Nam Kyung-pil despite allegations of Lee’s extramarital affair with an actress. The Incheon mayoral seat was taken by DP’s Park Nam-choon.
DP candidates also came first in Busan, Ulsan and South Gyeongsang Province, the traditional conservative stronghold: Oh Geo-don (55.2 percent) in Busan, Song Chul-ho (52.9 percent) in Ulsan and Kim Kyoung-soo (52.8 percent) in South Gyeongsang Province.
Seoul mayor Park Won-soon
Other major wins by DP members were Lee Yong-seop (84.10 percent) in Gwangju, Her Tae-jeong in Daejeon (56.4 percent), Lee Chun-hui in Sejong (71.3 percent), Choi Moon-soon in Gangwon (64.7 percent), Lee Si-jong in North Chungcheong (61.2 percent), Yang Seung-jo in South Chungcheong (62.6 percent), Song Ha-jin in North Jeolla (70.6 percent) and Kim Yung-rok (77.1 percent) in South Jeolla.
The landslide defeat is expected to lead to the end of political careers for LKP chairman Hong Joon-pyo and Ahn Cheol-soo of Bareunmirae who came in a distant third in the Seoul mayoral race.
By Lee Sang-hoon and Minu Kim
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]