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Democrats take office in full force

July 02,2018
Newly elected officials across the country began their four-year terms on Sunday after the Democratic Party swept local elections on June 13 and delivered a strong mandate to President Moon Jae-in’s liberal agenda.

Although their jobs began yesterday, most of the officials will hold swearing-in ceremonies today after rain delayed their inaugurations.

With Democrats leading most provincial, city and county governments, the balance of power has swung in favor of President Moon, who is riding high on approval ratings above 70 percent, unprecedented for a Korean president in the second year in office.

Out of 17 major provincial and mayoral seats, Democrats won all but three, while its major rival, the conservative Liberty Korea Party, only grabbed two. One independent, Won Hee-ryong, won the Jeju gubernatorial race.

In Busan, Incheon, Gyeonggi, South Gyeongsang and Ulsan, the seats flipped from the Liberty Korea Party to the Democratic Party. The newly elected governors and mayors will likely overhaul the policies of their predecessors and put their agendas in line with Moon’s liberal agenda.

They will have provincial and city councils on their side. Democrats hold a majority in all but two metropolitan and provincial councils.

In Seoul’s city council, Democrats make up a staggering 102 out of 110 seats. The Liberty Korea Party has six, the centrist Bareunmirae Party has one and the left-leaning Justice Party has one. The mayor, Park Won-soon, a Democrat, is serving his third term, making him the longest-serving mayor in Seoul’s history.

In Gyeonggi, the suburban satellite of Seoul where Lee Jae-myung is now governor, 135 of the provincial council’s 142 seats are held by Democrats. The Liberty Korea Party has just four, the Justice Party has two and the Bareunmirae Party has one.

Only North Gyeongsang and Daegu stand as the last defensive line for conservatives.

In the Daegu city council, the Liberty Korea Party holds 25 out of 30 seats. Democrats have the other five.

The mayor, Kwon Young-jin, is a member of the Liberty Korea Party.

In the North Gyeongsang council, the Liberty Korea Party has 40 out of 60 seats. Democrats command 10.

The governor, Lee Cheol-woo, is also in the Liberty Korea Party.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]