(scroll down for updates)
While today’s by-elections will not impact the balance of power in the National Assembly, they could deliver another blow to President Lee Myung-bak’s Grand National Party, which has suffered a string of set-backs in local and by-elections over the past year. It would be difficult for the GNP to gain a majority of the seats up for grabs today since they had previously held only one compared to five for the main opposition Democrats and two for minor parties.
The most closely watched race is in Seoul, where the GNP hopes to score a pick-up in a district formerly represented by Moon Kook-hyun of the very minor Creative Korea Party. Moon was stripped of the seat after he was convicted of selling a spot on the CKP’s party list in the 2008 general elections.
The good folks over at the National Election Commission are keeping a running tally (Korean), which I will periodically pass on. I will just note the area where the vote is taking place rather than the individual district (for example “Seoul” rather than “Eunpyeong Gu”), except in Gangwon Province, the site of three by-elections.
Here are some early results. Please note, that my spellings of personal names may not exactly match the candidates’ preferred translations. I will also only post results of the top two candidates unless a third candidate is close enough to have a chance of winning.
- Seoul: Lee Jae-oh (GNP) 59.26%, Jang Sang (DP) 39.28 %
The NEC sight is a little draggy right now. I guess there are a lot of other folks checking the results as well. I will get some more results up as soon as I can.)
- Seoul: Lee Jae-oh (GNP) 58.23%, Jang Sang (DP) 40.25%
- Incheon: Lee Sang-gwon (GNP), 46.30%, Kim Hoi-gap (DP) 44.43%
- Gwangju: Jang Byeong-hwan (DP) 56.85%, Oh Byeong-yun (Democratic Labor Party) 43.14% (The DLP has emerged as the main competition to the Democrats in the south-western party of Korea, where the GNP has little support. The GNP did not even field a candidate here).
- Gangwon-Wonju: Park U-sun (DP) 40.92%, Lee In-seop (GNP) 32.00%
- Gangwon-Taebaek: Choi Jong-won (DP) 55.92%, Yeom Dong-yeol (GNP) 44.22%
- Gangwon-rural*: Jeong Man-ho (DP) 45.94%, Han Gi-ho (GNP) 36.28% *(My name for that district, which consists of several rural counties).
- North Chungcheong: Yu Jin-shik (GNP) 65.04%, Jeong Gi-yeong (DP) 34.93%
- South Chungcheong: Kim Ho-yeon (GNP) 45.22%, Park Wan-ju (DP) 41.47%
With 65 percent of the votes counted in Seoul, Lee Jae-oh’s lead looks insurmountable. That would be an important pick-up for the GNP.
If these results hold, the GNP will be very happy, having picked up three seats while the Democrats would have lost one.
With most of the results in, I think it is safe to call a few races.
- Seoul: Lee Jae-oh(GNP) 58.39%, Jang Sang (DP) 39.84%
This was today’s marquis match-up. Lee’s victory is a boost for the GNP in the capital after nearly losing the mayoral election here earlier this year.
- Gwangju: Jang Byeong-hwan (DP) 56.02%, Oh Byeong-yun (Democratic Labor Party) 43.95%
This safe DP district remains safe. It was the best shot for a minor party taking a seat today.
- Gangwon-Wonju: Park U-sun(DP) 42.74%, Lee In-seop (GNP) 31.32%
- Gangwon-Taebaek: Choi Jong-won(DP) 55.60%, Yeom Dong-yeol (GNP)44.38 %
Gangwon Province, which had been solidly GNP county in the past, has become a competitive region.
- North Chungcheong: Yu Jin-shik(GNP) 63.75%, Jeong Gi-yeong (DP) 36.34%
Yu was expected to win this one easily and he did.
- Incheon: Lee Sang-gwon(GNP), 47.62%, Kim Hoi-gap (DP) 42.83%
Lee wins with 100% of the votes counted.
- South Chungcheong: Kim Ho-yeon (GNP) 46.73%, Park Wan-ju (DP) 38.83%
With 92 percent of the votes counted, Kim’s lead is insurmountable. This is another pick up for the GNP.
That gives four seats for the GNP and three for the Democrats with only one race still too close to call:
- Gangwon-rural*: Han Gi-ho (GNP) 39.63%, Jeong Man-ho (DP) 39.43%
I expect Han’s lead to grow as the rest of the votes are counted. The “county” (gun) with the most votes remaining to be counted has been solid for Han with an independent candidate taking a fifth of the votes there.
As expected, 한기호 (Han Gi-ho) pulled further ahead in the rural Gangwon Province race, giving the GNP its fifth win of the day. The GNP picked up four new seats, which makes this a major victory for the conservatives and a marked turn around from local elections earlier this year in which the main opposition Democrats made gains.
While today’s vote does not impact the balance of power in the General Assembly, it is a boost for President Lee Myung-bak and could help his allies in pushing his legislative agenda through the assembly this year. Lee must especially be pleased to see two close allies win seats in Seoul and North Chungcheong Province.
That is all for now. If there are any new major developments from this election, I will follow up with a new post.