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South Korean President Park Geun-hye delivers a speech at Gyeryongdae, South Korea's main military compound, Gyeryong, March 4, 2016 (Pool photo by Chung Sung-Jun via AP).

Election Defeat Complicates Park’s Plans in South Korea

Thursday, April 28, 2016

South Korea’s ruling conservative Saenuri Party is looking for answers after a crushing loss earlier this month in legislative elections. Led by President Park Geun-hye, the Saenuri Party managed to win only 122 of the National Assembly’s 300 seats, falling far short of the majority that many predicted. The opposition fared well, with the liberal Minjoo Party winning 123 seats and the left-wing People’s Party winning 38 seats. The National Assembly is now effectively deadlocked, with opposition parties controlling Park’s ability to pass legislation.

Her party’s loss is a stunning reversal and will reshape the political landscape in South Korea and constrain Park’s ability to pursue several domestic initiatives, such as labor reforms and attempts to deregulate the economy. In the election’s aftermath, the head of the Saenuri Party, Kim Moo-sung, resigned, stating that the party “humbly accepts the judgment of the people.” The results are a sign of public resentment of Park’s tight control over her party and rejection of her set of ambitious reforms aimed at kick-starting South Korea’s sluggish economy. ...

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