During the coronavirus crisis, South Korean voters have given President Moon Jae In’s social liberal party camp an overwhelming victory. The success in the parliamentary election on Wednesday strengthens the government in its internationally recognized action against the outbreak of COVID-19. After counting almost all votes, the Korean Democratic Party (Minjoo) and its satellite party secured a comfortable three-fifths majority in the 300-seat National Assembly.
According to the results published on Thursday morning, the Minjoo has 163 seats and the Common Citizens’ Party has 17 seats – 180 in total. The conservative bloc made up of the United Future Party (UFP) and a smaller sister party has 103 seats. The conservatives thus failed, after the defeat four years ago when they had surprisingly lost their parliamentary majority, to prevent further strengthening of center-left. The official election result was still pending.
The election success for Minjoo was not unexpected but was more pronounced than expected. UFP boss Hwang Kyo Ahn announced his resignation on Wednesday evening. “I will give up my party post and hold myself responsible for the outcome of the election,” said the former prime minister.
Despite the pandemic, participation was 66.2 percent, according to preliminary information from the election commission. It was the highest election rate in Asia’s fourth-largest economy in 28 years. In total, candidates from 41 parties had registered for the election. Numerous small parties had been founded.
Fever measurements in front of the polling stations
The election was seen not only as a general political mood test but also as an assessment of the government’s corona crisis management. The vote of the voters also strengthens the mandate of the reform politician Moon, whose approval ratings had risen again due to the determined action by the authorities against the virus. The Minjoo also benefited from this. According to observers, the outcome means that the government camp could practically pass laws by Parliament alone, except for a constitutional amendment. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2022. However, Moon cannot be re-elected after five years in office.
To reduce the risk of coronavirus infection during the election, voters had to wear breathing masks and put on disposable gloves to vote. Voters made sure that voters were at least three feet apart. In front of the polling stations, fever was measured among the voters.
Already on Friday and Saturday, a large proportion of the almost 44 million voters had taken advantage of the opportunity to cast their votes early to avoid large crowds. Thanks to its rigid virus test program, South Korea has become a role model for dealing with the epidemic. Recently, the number of cases reported daily had stabilized at less than 50. To date, more than 10,500 cases of infection have been recorded in South Korea.