South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol was dealt a blow when a candidate from his conservative party lost a hotly contested election in Seoul that was seen as a gauge for support of his government ahead of national elections in April.
(Bloomberg) — South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol was dealt a blow when a candidate from his conservative party lost a hotly contested election in Seoul that was seen as a gauge for support of his government ahead of national elections in April.
Jin Kyo-hoon of the progressive Democratic Party beat Kim Tae-woo of the conservative People Power Party by about 17 percentage points for the chief of Gangseo Ward in Seoul, election results Thursday showed. The vote set records for early turnout and drew national attention.
The floor leader of the Democratic Party called for Yoon to overhaul his cabinet to take responsibility for the defeat, Yonhap News reported.
Yoon’s PPP is looking to regain control of parliament from the Democratic Party in April elections, which would end divided government for the final three years of his single five-year term. His office said it “accepts any election results sternly,” according to local media including YTN television.
If Yoon’s party takes control of parliament next year, it is likely to push through economic policies that include taking on powerful labor unions, reducing regulations on businesses, and tax cuts for companies and on real estate transactions.
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Voter sentiment is expected to shift several times ahead of the vote and the Democratic Party is also facing difficulties as its leader Lee Jae-myung has been indicted on graft charges. Some party members are concerned Lee has become a liability and may not be able to focus his attention on the election while embroiled in a prolonged legal battle.
Kim, the candidate from the president’s party, was removed from the ward post in May as a result of a suspended prison sentence for leaking secrets when he was on an inspection team under former President Moon Jae-in — once the flag-bearer for the Democratic Party.
Kim was later granted a special pardon under Yoon’s government and ran as the PPP candidate for the seat he once held. The documents were concerning suspected corruption by a South Korean ambassador and a railway official, and Kim’s lawyers argued he released them in the public’s interest, according to the JoongAng newspaper.
Kim was fired from his post on the inspection team in 2019 over misconduct allegations and then joined the conservative camp, winning the race for ward boss in 2022, according to Yonhap.
–With assistance from Shinhye Kang and Seyoon Kim.
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