The victory by an independent in Seoul’s mayoral race dealt a big blow both to the ruling conservatives and the whole political establishment before national elections next year, commentators said yesterday.
Civic activist Park Won-soon won an unexpectedly large victory over Na Kyung-won of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) in Wednesday’s vote.
The political outsider secured 53.3 percent to Na’s 46.3 percent, an experienced and high-profile politician, in a vote seen as reflecting growing disenchantment with party politics among younger electors.
Park, a one-time student activist heavily supported by voters aged under 50, is the first person to win the Seoul mayoral election with no party affiliation.
He was backed by the left--leaning opposition, but stood as an -independent, sidelining the main opposition Democratic Party in the process. The city of 10.4 million holds almost a quarter of the country’s population.
“Angry 2040 have impeached political status quo,” read the headline in Dong-A Ilbo, referring to those aged in their 20s to 40s.
The setback has dented the GNP’s hopes of retaining its large parliamentary majority in a legislative election in April.
It also holds the presidency, but incumbent Lee Myung-bak is constitutionally barred from standing again in December next year.
Lee said yesterday he takes the GNP’s defeat to heart, adding that he would “keep deeply in mind the will the young generation showed in this election.”
Social networks played a major role in one of the world’s most wired nations. Young voters including celebrities posted tens of thousands of messages of support for Park on sites like Twitter, urging peers to vote and to post photographs of themselves at polling stations.
Exit polls showed about 70 percent of those aged under 50 supported Park, while Na got more backing from older voters and richer residents.
“Citizens won against power and their voting defeated the old era. Common sense and principle prevailed,” Park, 55, said on his Twitter account.
Analysts said economic woes, a widening income gap, high college tuition fees and rising youth unemployment triggered the revolt by frustrated young voters.
“Young voters, although they make up a large part of the population, feel that there is no party to represent their interests and suffering,” Yoon Pyung-joong, Hanshin University professor of political philosophy, told Dong-A.
The mayoral vote was also a proxy battle between two top potential contenders in next year’s presidential election.
Ahn Cheol-soo, a software -mogul who became an overnight political sensation when he expressed interest in running for mayor, later bowed out and gave his backing to Park.
Supporting Na was Park Geun-hye, long seen as the GNP front-runner next year and once dubbed the “queen of elections” for her campaigning skills. She now faces an uphill battle to shore up support, Dong-A said in an editorial.
“If the GNP can’t win the hearts of those aged in the 20s and 40s, that will mean they are completely doomed at elections next year,” the editorial said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year