Two op­po­si­tion lead­ers step down af­ter elec­tion de­ba­cle

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Park Ji-won jw­park@ko­re­atimes.co.kr

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.

Yon­hap

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

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