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Potential presidential hopefuls secure wins in local elections

All News 11:53 June 02, 2022

SEOUL, June 2 (Yonhap) -- Political heavyweights harboring presidential ambitions won landslide or narrow victories in this week's local elections and parliamentary by-elections, paving the way for further political strides toward the nation's next presidential poll in 2027, watchers said Thursday.

Three politicians from the ruling People Power Party (PPP) -- Oh Se-hoon, Ahn Cheol-soo and Hong Joon-pyo -- cemented their political influences by winning landslide victories, while former presidential candidates Lee Jae-myung and Kim Dong-yeon, both of the opposition Democratic Party, garnered an unimpressive and a narrow victory, respectively.

Oh Se-hoon makes a stump speech in Seoul on May 31, 2022, the final day of campaigning for the June 1 local elections. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Oh Se-hoon makes a stump speech in Seoul on May 31, 2022, the final day of campaigning for the June 1 local elections. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Above all, Seoul Mayor Oh, who won reelection to become the first person to be elected to the capital's mayoral post for the fourth time, drew extensive media attention for playing a pivotal role in the PPP's strong performances in the capital area.

Oh is known for his turbulent political history over the past decade. In 2011, Oh resigned as Seoul mayor, taking responsibility for his unsuccessful campaign to end free lunches for students. He then suffered defeats in parliamentary elections in 2016 and 2020 before winning an overwhelming victory in Seoul's mayoral by-election in April last year.

Political circles are also paying strong attention to the future path of Ahn, who is making a comeback to the National Assembly as a three-term lawmaker after five years after a comfortable win in a parliamentary by-election in Seongnam, south of Seoul.

Ahn Cheol-soo waves to his supporters in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on May 31, 2022, the final day of campaigning for the June 1 local elections and parliamentary by-elections. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Ahn Cheol-soo waves to his supporters in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on May 31, 2022, the final day of campaigning for the June 1 local elections and parliamentary by-elections. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Ahn, who dropped out of this year's presidential race to back Yoon Suk-yeol, served as the chair of the presidential transition committee but chose not to serve in his Cabinet to focus on expanding the support base of the ruling party through the local elections.

The latest election win is expected to help widen Ahn's political foundation and position within the PPP, as he is widely expected to run for the party's chairmanship.

Hong, who competed unsuccessfully against Yoon in the PPP presidential primary last year but won a landslide victory in Daegu's mayoral election this week, is still considered one of the influential presidential hopefuls in the ruling bloc.

Lee, who was successfully elected to the National Assembly for the first time from a by-election in Incheon, west of Seoul, after losing narrowly to Yoon in the presidential race, is reportedly confronted with a complicated political situation.

As the chief of the DP's election committee, Lee can hardly avoid responsibility for the party's devastating defeats in the local elections. Nevertheless, he is expected to use his parliamentary seat to expand his political base within the DP and challenge for the party chairmanship at its national convention slated for August.

Kim, who came from behind at the last minute to beat his PPP rival by 0.15 percentage point, is expected to further raise his political status and join the ranks of the DP's next presidential hopefuls. He is particularly credited with helping save the DP's face in its shocking election defeats and lay the foundation to check the Yoon administration.

Kim Dong-yeon of the Democratic Party makes a stump speech in Bucheon, west of Seoul, on May 31, 2022, the final day of campaigning for the June 1 local elections. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Kim Dong-yeon of the Democratic Party makes a stump speech in Bucheon, west of Seoul, on May 31, 2022, the final day of campaigning for the June 1 local elections. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

ycm@yna.co.kr
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