South Korea’s ruling People Power Party (PPP) clinched a resounding victory in local elections, giving the newly inaugurated government of President Yoon Suk-yeol an added mandate to push forward with its agenda.
The PPP won 12 out of 17 key races for big city mayors and provincial governors, including Seoul, while the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) won five key races, including three in its stronghold of the Jeolla provinces, Yonhap News Agency reported on Thursday.
The PPP, however,failed to win the race for Gyeonggi Governor which was considered the biggest battleground in this week’s elections.
The DP candidate, Kim Dong-yeon, came from behind at the last minute to beat his PPP rival, Kim Eun-hye, by 0.15 percentage point.
In Seoul, current Mayor Oh Se-hoon was re-elected. The PPP also bagged the governorships of both Chungcheong provinces, both Gyeongsang provinces and Gangwon Province, and the mayorships of Incheon, the central cities of Sejong and Daejeon, as well as the southeastern cities of Daegu, Ulsan and Busan.
The DP won the mayorship of Gwangju and the governorships of the Jeolla provinces, Jeju and Gyeonggi province.
The PPP’s win, which came less than a month since Yoon took office, is expected to strengthen his mandate.
“I take the election results as the people’s call to revive the economy and take better care of their livelihoods,” the President said in a statement.
“For this, I will navigate the difficulties hand in hand with local governments. The Yoon Suk-yeol government will put all of its energy into stabilising the public’s livelihoods with the attitude that the first, second and third (most important thing) is the economy.”
Up for grabs in this year’s local elections were positions for 17 metropolitan mayors and provincial governorships, 226 lower-level administrative leadership positions, as well as 872 seats in provincial and metropolitan councils, with 2,988 being in lower-level local councils.
Also at stake were seven National Assembly seats in parliamentary by-elections.
Tentative turnout for this year’s local elections was tallied at 50.9 per cent, the second-lowest ever for local elections, as 22.5 million of 44.3 million eligible voters cast ballots, according to the National Election Commission.
Despite registering a record early voting turnout of 20.62 per cent, the final turnout came in far lower than the 60.2 per cent logged in the 2018 local elections.