ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Democratic Party wins in the parliamentary elections

Friday, 12 April 2024 politics   elections  

Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - In the parliamentary elections on April 10 in South Korea, the Democratic Party and its coalition won a clear victory: according to the official count of seats, the parties received a total of 175 seats in the 300-member National Assembly. In addition, another small liberal party won 12 seats under the proportional representation system. The “People Power Party” of incumbent President Yoon Suk-yeol, together with “satellite parties,” only won a total of 108 seats. According to the Election Commission, turnout among South Korea's 44 million eligible voters was 67%, the highest in a parliamentary election since 1992. The new parliament will take office on May 30 and serve a four-year term. Of the 300 seats, 254 were filled in direct elections in the local constituencies and the remaining 46 were filled by the parties using the proportional representation system according to the votes received. Regardless of the outcome, President Yoon, who took office in 2022, will remain in power until 2027, but will be significantly weakened by his lack of a majority in parliament. The vote was seen by many as a test of approval for President Yoon, who has struggled with difficult domestic economic and internal security issues during his time in office. The mood among the population towards the president and the ruling party had deteriorated, particularly in the months before the election, due to rising food prices and a long-lasting crisis in the healthcare system. The president is now being described by political observers as "weakened" as it will now be even more difficult for him to implement his political agenda. Critics also accuse him of refusing to fire senior officials caught up in scandals and of failing to promote dialogue with the opposition to achieve political coordination on key issues. Commentators say President Yoon will lose momentum in pursuing some key policy goals, such as health care reform and the abolition of the Ministry of Gender Equality. However, the president's party was able to avoid the liberal alliance gaining a two-thirds majority of seats in parliament, which would have allowed it to override the president's veto power, impeach the president and hold a referendum to amend the constitution. On foreign policy, Yoon's priorities remain unchanged despite the defeat, as they do not normally require parliamentary approval. At a historic moment of crisis and tension with North Korea, Yoon strengthened the alliance with the US and improved relations with Japan. On the eve of the election, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea sent a questionnaire to the various parties (see Fides, 4/4/2024) to ask their position on issues of public interest and to compare them with the social teaching of the Church. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 12/4/2024)