중앙데일리

Liberals’ shock win may disrupt Lee’s agenda

민주당 ‘MB정책 폐기’ 대공세
Gov’t hopes to continue four rivers project, but Sejong plan is endangered   PLAY AUDIO

June 04,2010
Chung Sye-kyun / Chung Mong-joon
Opposition candidates trounced the conservative ruling Grand National Party in local elections, throwing a spanner into the Lee Myung-bak administration’s flagship development projects and signaling the rise of liberal politicians with ties to the late former President Roh Moo-hyun.

And although incumbent Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon of the GNP was re-elected over his Democratic Party rival, his razor-thin victory only confirmed the rise of the Democrats’ popularity and could be an augur of the next national election. The Seoul mayoralty is seen as a stepping stone to the presidency.

The Democrats won seven top posts in Incheon, Gwangju, Gangwon, North and South Chungcheong and North and South Jeolla out of the 16 metropolitan city mayor and provincial governor elections that were held Wednesday.

The Grand Nationals won six, recording victories in Seoul, Gyeonggi, Busan, Daegu, Ulsan and North Gyeongsang.

The conservative minority Liberty Forward Party captured the Daejeon mayor’s office, while independent candidates won South Gyeongsang and Jeju.

Although the GNP triumphed in two of the three strategic races in the capital region, it surrendered its traditional stronghold of South Gyeongsang and Gangwon to liberals. The GNP also lost in Daejeon and the Chungcheong provinces, presenting a serious challenge to Lee’s plan to downgrade the redevelopment of Sejong City from a new administrative city to a mere business hub.

In the aftermath of the defeat, GNP chairman Chung Mong-joon and Lee’s chief of staff Chung Chung-kil resigned to take responsibility.

Perhaps the most watched election was the battle between Oh and Han Myeong-sook in Seoul. The exit polls indicated a near-tie between the two. Oh’s victory was only confirmed at 8:25 a.m. yesterday as ballots from Seocho District, a GNP stronghold, were tallied.

Oh defeated his Democratic Party rival by about 26,000 votes. Oh won 47.43 percent of the ballots while Han received 46.83 percent.

While Oh struggled against Han in Seoul, Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo of the GNP enjoyed an easier, but still close, triumph over Rhyu Si-min of the People’s Participation Party. Kim won 52.2 percent of votes, while Rhyu, who represented the allied opposition candidates including the DP, scored 47.8 percent.

In Incheon, another key strategic area of the capital region, the incumbent mayor Ahn Sang-soo of the GNP suffered a defeat. Song Young-gil of the Democratic Party was elected with 52.69 percent of votes.

The Democrats’ dominance was also clear in the elections of 228 county governors. While the Democrats won 92, the Grand Nationals secured 82. Independents and candidates from other minor parties won 38, the Liberty Forward Party won 13 and the Democratic Labor Party won three.

The Democrats particularly trounced the GNP in the district head elections in Seoul, winning 21 out of 25 posts, a dramatic change from four years ago. In the last local elections, the GNP won all 25 district head posts.

Democrats were also able to celebrate a near-sweep of the Seoul city council in an almost total reverse of the last elections. Democratic candidates took 74 of the 96 available seats, to the ruling party’s 22.

The Grand National party was in damage control mode yesterday and the idea of scheduling a convention to elect a new chairman was discussed.

Blue House Chief of Staff Chung’s resignation is expected to be accepted, prompting speculation that a reshuffle will also follow to revamp the administration.

“The election outcome should be received as an opportunity for self-examination,” President Lee was quoted as saying by spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye.

“The government must concentrate all efforts on further economic recovery.”

“The election defeat has created a serious setback for Lee’s agenda for the second half of his term,” said a senior Blue House official. “The four major rivers restoration project is currently ongoing, so it wouldn’t be disturbed, but the plan to revise the Sejong City development program effectively becomes impossible.”

The Democratic Party wasted no time in making demands. Chairman Chung Sye-kyun said yesterday that Lee’s cabinet should resign.

Chung also demanded that the four rivers project be scrapped and Lee give up his Sejong City revision plan. He also urged Lee to apologize for creating a national security crisis in the aftermath of the Cheonan’s sinking.

The elections also signaled the return of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun’s people, despite the losses by Han and Rhyu, key Roh aides, in Seoul and Gyeonggi elections. Victories by three key Roh aides also hinted that the regionalism that has dominated Korean politics for decades may be dissipating.

The Democratic Party won elections in not only its traditional strongholds of Gwangju and the Jeolla provinces, but also in the GNP strongholds of Gangwon and South Gyeongsang and Liberty Forward Party strongholds South and North Chungcheong provinces.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

야권 맹공격 … “4대강·세종시 철회, 내각 총사퇴하라”
여권 줄사퇴 … 정몽준 대표, 정정길 대통령실장 사의
교육 대혼란 … 친전교조 교육감들 “교과부 정책 수정”


지방권력이 8년 만에 한나라당에서 민주당으로 사실상 넘어갔다. 민주당은 2006년 지방선거와 2007년 대선, 2008년 총선 등 전국 단위 선거에서 내리 세 번 졌으나 이번에는 연패의 사슬도 끊었다. 교육자치에서도 진보가 약진했다. 서울·경기 등 진보 교육감이 당선된 곳에서는 진보적 교육정책이 만개할 걸로 보인다. 한나라당 참패와 민주당 대승으로 귀결된 6·2 지방선거의 결과는 정치와 교육의 지형을 크게 바꿔 놓을 전망이다. 더불어 정치권과 교육계엔 선거의 후폭풍이 몰아닥치고 있다.



◆야 “MB정부 사업 전면 재검토”=민주당 등 야권 시·도지사의 대거 당선으로 현 정부가 추진해 온 핵심 사업들의 추진 여부를 둘러싸고 충돌이 벌어질 전망이다. 무소속 김두관 경남도지사 당선자는 선거 기간 중 “정부의 낙동강 정비사업을 중단시켜 그 예산 22조원을 교육·복지·일자리 예산으로 쓰겠다”고 공약했다. 민주당 안희정 충남도지사 당선자는 “금강 정비사업을 재검토하겠다”고 강조해 왔다. 정부의 4대 강 사업과 관련해 낙동강과 금강 유역 정비사업에 제동이 걸릴 수 있다는 얘기다.
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