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(LEAD) Ruling party leader pledges new beginning after election win

All Headlines 16:42 April 12, 2012

(ATTN: UPDATES with opposition parties' response in last 8 paras; ADDS photos)

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- Park Geun-hye, the leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, vowed Thursday to use her party's crucial win in the general elections to deliver on its promise of a better life for the people.

"(We) will be sure to put into practice all the things we promised to the people," she said during a press conference at her party's headquarters in Seoul. "(We) will start anew with the mindset that we will be remembered as sinners if we revert to the old ways of the past."

In an unexpected turn of events Wednesday, the Saenuri Party won an outright majority of the total 300 seats up for grabs, with 152 seats against the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP)'s 127 seats.

The upset victory is widely expected to significantly bolster Park's standing as a presidential candidate in December, as she is credited with overseeing efforts to rebuild the once-beleaguered party and has been at the forefront of its election campaign.

The opposition DUP, once forecast to win an easy victory, was hit by last-minute revelations that one of its candidates uttered inflammatory sexist and derogatory slurs in the past, among other issues.

Addressing opposition allegations that the government conducted illegal surveillance of civilians in the past, Park said she will push for a bill to prevent such activities and work to put right other accusations that were raised in the campaign process.

"Never again will we waste time on issues that are not relevant to people's lives," she said. "We will do our best to gain support even from those who did not pick the Saenuri Party."

Park also said she will press forward to normalize operations within the party, which has been led by an emergency council since late last year.

Meanwhile, calls were mounting for DUP leader Han Myeong-sook to take responsibility for the party's defeat and step down.

Jang Sung-min, a former DUP lawmaker, issued a press release saying the party missed an opportunity to shift political power due to its "arrogant and proud leadership."

"Han should step down from her posts as party leader and proportional representation candidate, and announce her retirement from politics," he said.

Park Jie-won, a senior DUP official reelected in the southwestern coastal city of Mokpo, also took aim at the party leadership.

During a radio interview in Mokpo, he said, "The DUP leadership cannot avoid stepping down over the election results, and that is (their due) responsibility."

Han has so far remained silent on her future plans. Writing in a visitors' book during a visit to the National Cemetery in Seoul early in the day, she left the words, "I will heavily accept the people's will."

Sim Dae-pyung, the leader of the conservative minor opposition Liberty Forward Party, announced his resignation from the post, claiming responsibility for the party's weak showing of five seats. He also lost his own race in the district of the central administrative city of Sejong against former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan of the DUP.

"All the responsibility for the election results falls on me as party leader," he said during a press conference at the National Assembly. "I sincerely apologize for failing to meet the expectations of the people who supported (us)."


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