Ruling party set for landslide victory in by-elections

July 30, 2014

Na Kyung-won of the ruling party has already made her speech. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea’s ruling party appeared likely to win a landslide victory in Wednesday’s parliamentary by-elections, according to a preliminary vote count for the polls seen as a midterm referendum on President Park Geun-hye’s conservative administration.

Candidates of the ruling Saenuri Party were leading their opposition party rivals in 11 of the 15 constituencies up for grabs, leaving only four seats for the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), according to the vote count by the National Election Commission (NEC).

The polls carried extra weight because 15 parliamentary seats were being contested, the most ever for a by-election. They also came less than two months after the June 4 local elections in which neither the ruling nor the main opposition party claimed a clear-cut victory.

Voting closed at 8 p.m. at 1,003 polling stations in 15 constituencies nationwide, including Seoul’s Dongjak-B district and three crucial districts in Suwon, just south of the capital.

Seoul and Suwon have been especially closely watched due to the large number of political heavyweights involved and the opposition bloc’s mergers of candidacies aimed at boosting its chances of victory.

As of 10 p.m., Na Kyung-won of the ruling party was leading Roh Hoe-chan of the minor opposition Justice Party in Dongjak-B with 52.1 percent of the vote against 46.5 percent, according to the NEC.

Roh became the main opposition candidate after Gi Dong-min of the NPAD withdrew from the race last week.

In Suwon, the ruling party was leading in districts B and C, while the opposition party was in front in district D.

Voter turnout came in at 32.9 pct, lower than the average of 35.3 percent recorded for the 14 previous parliamentary by-elections since 2000, according to the NEC.