Opposition Party Wins Majority in South Korea’s Legislative Elections

The National Election Commission (NEC) announced the election results of the April 11th legislative elections, with the Democratic Party (DP) winning a majority of the seats contested in South Korea’s National Assembly. The People’s Power Party (PPP) lost several seats during the election, only gaining 90 seats. The DP’s win in the elections likely means that the current government of President Yoon Suk Yeol will continue to have difficulties passing laws that would support the reforms it wants to implement.

Election Results

South Korea’s Democratic Party (DP) won a majority of seats open in the country’s legislative elections held on April 11th. The DP won 161 out of the 254 directly contested seats up for election (63 percent), while the People Power Party (PPP) won 90 seats, or 35 percent. In total, the DP and its affiliated parties won 175 seats, while the PPP and its affiliated parties won 108 seats in the 300-seat legislative chamber, the National Assembly.

In the elections for the proportional seats, the DP’s allied party, the Democratic United Party, won 27 percent, and the PPP’s allied party, the People Future Party, won 37 percent. However, the Rebuilding Korea Party, led by former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, won 27 percent.

The country’s National Election Commission (NEC) said that 67 percent of the total 44.28 million voters participated in the elections, marking the highest voter turnout for a general election in 32 years.

NEC officials sorting out of ballots for counting in Seoul, South Korea (Photo: AP/Lee Jin-ji)

The PPP’s leader, Han Dong-hoon, resigned from his position to take responsibility for the party’s defeat in the election. Han held a press conference at the party’s headquarters after the official results were published. He said, “I apologize to the people on behalf of our party, which fell short of receiving the people’s support.”

He then said, “I solemnly accept the will of the people and deeply reflect on myself. I take full responsibility for the election results and step down.”

DP Chairman Lee Jae-myung also held a press conference after the NEC announced he won against PPP candidate and former Land Minister Won Hee-ryong in Incheon’s Gyeyang-B district. Lee said that he will “stop the regression of the country’s state affairs and make it move toward the future once again.”

DP Chairman Lee Jae-myung (Center) and other candidates clap as election results are broadcasting legislative elections in Seoul, South Korea (AP/Chung Sung-Jun)

Cho also held a press conference after the election results were announced, with him stating that “the people have won.” He then said that “the people have made their intent clear that it is a verdict handed down to the Yoon Suk Yeol government.”

Cho also echoed Lee’s statement regarding the election results, saying that the people showed that they did not like the government’s regression and called for Yoon to “humbly accept the election outcome.”

Analysis

The election result indicates that a large portion of South Korean voters are unhappy with the current Yoon administration regarding issues such as the ongoing doctor strike and slowing economic growth. These issues likely caused the electorate to pick the DP and other candidates since they perceived that the current government had not handled the issues well. The DP leveraged this discontent by developing messages that pointed out the Yoon administration’s ‘incompetence’ and accused the government of causing the economy and, by extension, the people’s livelihoods to worsen. Furthermore, the DP also accused Yoon’s government of mishandling various controversies that occurred in the two years since Yoon was elected president.

The election is also a significant setback to Yoon’s government since it will increase the government’s inability to pass key items on his reform agenda. For example, the DP came close to gaining a 2/3 majority in the National Assembly, which would have made Yoon a ‘lame duck’ in the remaining three years in office. However, Japan likely view the election results as having the potential to derail or stop initiatives and talks over long-standing issues such as compensation for Korean workers used by Japanese companies during World War II. Furthermore, Japan could view the election results as potentially having a negative impact on diplomatic, economic, and security agreements that both countries undertook during Yoon’s time in office in May 2022.

Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.

MORE FROM ATLAS NEWS

North Korea Jams GPS Signals Near Sea Border Amid Rising Tensions

North Korea has jammed GPS signals near the inter-Korean maritime border for the second consecutive day, intensifying regional tensions. The move follows the DPRK's threats of military action if...

A Look Into Venezuela’s Upcoming Presidential Election

The Venezuelan government is organizing the first presidential election in the country since 2018, following negotiations between the Venezuelan government and the United States during which the US promised...