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Uri Party Suffers Historical Defeat

Posted June. 02, 2006 04:27,   


“The Uri Party has been totally defeated in terms of quality as well as in quantity.”

In Seoul, the local elections held on May 31 have showed the widest vote margins between the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) and the ruling Uri Party combined and the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP), when compared to local, presidential and general elections held since 2002.

Generally, Seoul is considered as a barometer of the public opinion because it has historically been the place of the fiercest competition between the ruling party and the opposition.

In the elections for head of district in the third local elections in June 2002, the GNP won overwhelmingly. But only two districts--Seocho and Gangnam--saw a margin of more than 25 percent in the number of votes between the MDP and the GNP.

In the presidential election in December 2002, no district showed a margin of more than 25 percent between the number of votes for Roh Moo-hyun, then presidential candidate from the MDP, and those of Lee Hoi-chang from the GNP.

Also, in the general elections held in April, 2004, only Gangnam-gu saw a margin of more than 25 percent between the Uri Party and the GNP. In the May 31 elections this year, however, GNP winners of 23 districts except for Mapo-gu, Yangcheon-gu and Gwanak-gu earned at least 25 percentage points more than their counterparts from Uri. In Seocho-gu and Gangnam-gu, the vote discrepancies were as much as 55.5-60.2 percent.

Even in Mapo, Yangcheon and Gwanak, the vote margins between Uri and GNP were within 25 percentage points, not because the ruling party received a lot of support from the residents, but because independent or other party candidates won quite a few votes.

In Mapo and Yangcheon, the incumbent district heads ran for office as independents, as they were not nominated in the GNP. In Gwanak-gu, Kim Hee-cheol from MDP, the present head of the district, earned 33.4 percent of the total votes.

In both Yangcheon-gu and Gwanak-gu, candidates from the Uri Party ranked third, winning just less than half the number of votes their GNP counterparts earned.

Kang-Myoung Chang Hye-Jin Kwon tesomiom@donga.com hjkwon@donga.com