WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Left-leaning Democratic Party of South Korean President Moon Jae-in got a landslide victory in parliamentary elections on Wednesday.
- The election proceeded in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus crisis but voters were required to sanitize their hands, wear protective masks and gloves, and practice social distancing.
- Moon Jae-in’s coronavirus response became a significant factor in the victory of the Democratic Party.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s left-leaning Democratic Party won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections on Wednesday. The success of the administration in handling the coronavirus pandemic became a significant factor in the victory of Moon and his allies.
The Democratic Party got 163 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly, with most votes cast on midday Thursday. It was also expected to secure another 17 seats through its ally, the Platform Party. Exit polls forecast that the United Future Party, the Democratic Party’s opposition, would win a total of 103 seats.
Thae Yong-ho, a North Korean defector in 2016, was among the newly elected lawmakers. He won a seat as the representative of Gangnam, Seoul’s upscale district.
The ongoing virus outbreak posed challenges to the proceedings of the election. Voters were compelled to clean their hands, wear masks and gloves, and observe social distancing.
Individuals having high temperatures were isolated and they voted in freshly sanitized booths. The voting turnout, including the quarter of the population who used postal ballots, was 66% despite the inconveniences.
Outside mainland China, Korea was one of the early countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases. For a time, its daily infections surged to almost 1,000 per day — which the country battled through stringent measures such as mass testing, aggressive contact tracing and quarantine protocols.
On Thursday, Korea recorded only 22 new COVID-19 cases — the fourth consecutive day when figures of new infections were under 30. The country has recorded a total of 10,613 cases and 229 fatalities. About 60,000 people are currently in quarantine.
The landslide victory of Moon’s Democratic Party could mean a continuation of the president’s reform agenda. He wants to boost police investigative powers, liquidate nuclear power generation and boost income growth.
The victory is anticipated to expedite approval of Moon’s policies to soften the economic impact of the outbreak. One action is to provide $818 (KRW 1 million) to all families whose incomes dropped by more than 30%.
Democratic Party Chairman Lee Hae-chan told Korean media, “We will do our best to win the war against the coronavirus and overcome the economic crisis so as to reward people’s support for us.”