South Korea’s ruling party lost mayoral by-elections in two key cities, local media said on Thursday.
The Wednesday by-elections in the capital Seoul and Busan, the country’s second-largest city, were won by the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), according to Yonhap News Agency.
In Seoul the PPP’s Oh Se-hoon defeated his ruling Democratic Party (DP) rival Park Young-sun with 57.5% of the vote, while in Busan, the PPP’s Park Heong-joon beat the DP’s Kim Young-choon with 63%.
The opposition party also swept 13 of 19 other local posts in the elections, according to the country's National Election Commission.
The losses follows years of victories by the ruling party, including two consecutive general elections in 2016 and 2020, the 2017 presidential election, and 2018 local elections.
The polls, especially in Seoul, home to nearly 10 million of the country's 52 million population, are seen as harbingers of public opinion ahead of the March 2022 presidential election, according to Yonhap.
Following announcement of the results, the ruling party’s acting Chairman Kim Tae-nyeon stepped down, take responsibility for the defeat.
"Taking responsibility for the results of the elections, all (members of) the DP leadership are stepping down," the agency quoted Kim told reporters.
"Through the election this time, the people have given the DP a lot of tasks," he added.
President Moon Jae-in also called the results a "reprimand" from the public.
He said he would concentrate efforts on meeting the people's "desperate demands," including overcoming the COVID-19 crisis, revitalizing the economy, stabilizing people's livelihoods and the real estate market, and rooting out corruption, the agency quoted Moon as saying.
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