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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on April 17)

All News 06:49 April 17, 2020

DPK's landslide victory
Ruling party must restore partnership with opposition parties

Liberals secured a landslide victory in Wednesday's general election, which drew significant international attention as the first nationwide election in the world to be held amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and its "satellite party" garnered 180 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly, while the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) and its satellite party secured 103. The remaining 17 were shared by smaller parties and independent candidates.

The results have many political connotations. First of all, the creation of a powerful ruling party will give President Moon Jae-in fresh momentum as he pushes his policy agenda for the remainder of his term, which ends in May 2022. Technically, with a strong majority, the DPK can change laws as it wants without support from any other parties ― except for revising the Constitution which requires at least a two thirds vote ― from May 30 when the next National Assembly is convened.

On the other hand, the UFP has a rough road ahead. The first thing it has to do now is to learn the lesson from the election debacle and choose new party leaders who are capable of bringing positive changes to the party and regaining the public's confidence. While vote counting was in progress Wednesday night, UFP Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn resigned from the post, taking responsibility for the defeat. Surely, it has now been proven that, without changes, there is no future for the conservative party.

The stunning victory will certainly put the ruling party in a dominant position in the legislature, but it doesn't necessarily mean the political situation will stabilize in the future. The DPK should be humble and not arrogant in dealing with the opposition, or it will lose public support.

No doubt, the election results will bring about a seismic change to the country's political landscape. Regardless of this, however, South Koreans have good reasons to be proud of this election. It proved a nationwide election could be held, even during this COVID-19 pandemic, with adequate safety measures. It had been widely expected that the coronavirus outbreak might deter people from going to polling stations, but the voter turnout was 66.2 percent, the highest in a general election in 28 years. South Koreans braved the coronavirus to vote, and they deserve to be proud of this. After the elections, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated South Koreans on holding "successful" elections despite the COVID-19 outbreak, describing the country as a model for the world. U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris also tweeted the high voter turnout was a testament to the country's dedication to democratic ideals.

Their compliments are good to hear. But the election is over, and the country faces grave imminent challenges. It should win the war against the coronavirus, and overcome the ongoing economic crisis. Without a partnership with the opposition, the fight will be much harder for Moon and the DPK.

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