Two opposition leaders step down after election debacle
The leaders of the country’s two largest opposition parties offered to resign Thursday, following crushing defeats in local elections and by-elections for 12 Assembly seats the day before.
Main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) Chairman Hong Joon-pyo offered to step down at an emergency party meeting. Hours later the smaller Bareunmirae Party Chairman Rep. Yoo Seong-min also tendered his resignation.
“We totally lost in the elections. The whole country is now under the control of liberals,” Hong said. “Everything is my fault and I take full responsibility.”
“I respect the people’s choice. I quit as leader as of today. I hope the party can become a party trusted by the people by uniting,” he said.
The LKP also announced that party management leaders would also resign along with Hong, and its floor leader Kim Sung-tae would be a temporary head.
The move is likely the beginning of a realignment for conservatives. According to the election outcome finalized Thursday morning, the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) won a landslide victory in the local elections and by-elections, sweeping 14 of the 17 key government positions including those for Seoul mayor and Gyeonggi Province governor. The DPK also swept 11 out of 12 Assembly seats. The LKP merely won two mayoralties and provincial governorships and secured one Assembly seat in Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang Province, a conservative dominated district.
Right after the announcement of the exit polls Wednesday at 6 p.m., Hong hinted at the possibility of his resignation as he wrote “THE BUCK STOPS HERE!” on Facebook.
Earlier on the same day, Rep. Yoo Seong-min, a co-leader of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party, also resigned after the party didn’t win any major posts, only 20 minor ones in elections where about 4,000 local administrative posts were open.
“I gravely accept the people’s choices and resign from the position of leader of the party and take responsibility for the defeat,” Yoo said during a press conference, Thursday.
Along with the leaders, election teams for the party and Yoo’s aides will likely resign.
Ahn Cheol-soo, a Seoul mayoral candidate for the Bareunmirae Party and former presidential contender against Moon Jae-in, landed in third place in the race, likely a huge failure as the minor opposition party’s intention was to grasp at least second place and play a leading role among conservatives after the election.
Rep. Kim Tae-heum, a senior member of the LKP, also announced ahead of Hong’s announcement that he was quitting a decision-making position in the party.
The ruling DPK secured 129 seats in the 300-member National Assembly, while the main opposition LKP will have 113 seats.
Liberty Korea Party Chairman Hong Joon-pyo leaves the National Assembly after announcing his resignation from the post at a party meeting, Thursday.
Rep. Yoo Seong-min