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(2nd LD) Ex-PM Lee wins against main rival Hwang in Seoul's Jongno

All News 03:40 April 16, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with latest vote counting results, more background info)

SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- Former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon of the ruling party won big against his main rival, Hwang Kyo-han, in a parliamentary race seen as a prelude to the next presidential election.

As of Thursday 3:05 a.m. with 99.9 percent of votes cast in the Seoul's Jongno constituency counted, Lee of the Democratic Party had received 58.3 percent of the votes, according to the National Election Commission (NEC), the state election watchdog.

Hwang, chief of the main opposition United Future Party, received 39.9 percent.

Jongno in central Seoul is regarded as a symbolic constituency in South Korean politics -- a place where key political heavyweights, including three former presidents, were elected.

During campaigning, their race gained intense attention as the candidates are widely viewed as potential rivals for the 2022 presidential elections.

Lee Nak-yon (L), the ruling Democratic Party's parliamentary candidate for Seoul's Jongno constituency, raises up bouquets of flowers in his election office with his wife to celebrate his election win on April 15, 2020. (Yonhap)

His own landslide victory as well as the ruling party's win of over a majority of seats up for grabs in the parliamentary elections nationwide are expected to give a boost to his future political path.

Lee is leading opinion polls as the most favored potential presidential contender against Hwang.

After setting a record as the longest-serving prime minister since the country adopted direct presidential elections in 1987, Lee returned to the politics as soon as he finished his term in office in mid-January.

Before serving as a governor of South Jeolla Province and prime minister, he was a four-term lawmaker based in the province.

"I thank residents of Jongno for entrusting me with this job as a legislator," Lee said in his campaign office in Jongno at about 9:40 p.m. on Wednesday when his election victory became almost certain.

He also expressed appreciation to the people for giving the overwhelming victory for the ruling party.

"I feel a great responsibility with my whole body... You entrusted the government and the ruling party with the responsibility of overcoming the national disaster caused by the COVID-19 and coping with the global crisis. The ruling party will fulfill its duty under the command of the people."

Hwang announced on Wednesday that he will step down from his party post to take responsibility for the party's defeat in the elections.

These photos show former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon (L) of the ruling Democratic Party and Hwang Kyo-ahn (R) of the main opposition United Future Party casting ballots in parliamentary elections in the Jongno district in central Seoul on April 15, 2020. (Yonhap)


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