Conservatives get majority in South Korea elections

April 10th, 2008 - 12:27 am ICT by admin  

(Second Lead)
Seoul, April 9 (DPA) The conservative Grand National Party (GNP) emerged Wednesday as clear winner, unseating the liberal United Democratic Party (UDP) as the South Korean National Assembly’s largest faction, television reports said. With 90 percent of the vote counted, President Lee Myung Bak’s GNP was expected to take 152 of the 299 legislature seats, the KBS television network said.

Predictions that the GNP might be able to achieve a two-thirds majority in the Assembly faded after an internal squabble over candidate nominations tarnished the party’s image.

The UDP was forecast to take only 82 mandates in the poll. In the old assembly it had 136 seats.

The GNP win follows its victory in the presidential election in December, ending 10 years of UDP domination of the East Asian country.

The victory was seen by observers as a strengthening of the mandate of President Lee, who promised wide-ranging economic reforms and higher rates of growth.

The GNP has also adopted a tougher stance with its communist North Korea, prompting Pyongyang to threaten to cut off dialogue with Seoul. Recent tensions with the North as expected had little impact on the election.

UDP head Sohn Hak Kyu conceded defeat, saying his party “tried to change and reform, but it seems that our will for change has not been accepted by the people yet.”

Voter turnout as expected hit a record low, with only 46 percent of the 37.8 million eligible voters casting ballots, according to the state election commission. Political apathy and disgruntlement were blamed.

Voter turnout also achieved an all-time low for a presidential election four months ago when 62.9 percent of voters took part.

To encourage people to turn out at polling stations, voters were given vouchers for reduced entry prices at museums and other public institutions.

According to results, independent candidates were set to win in 25 districts, and the conservative Liberal Progressive Party of former CNP head Lee Hoi Chang garnered 18 seats.

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