South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s ruling liberal party scored a resounding victory in parliamentary elections amid successes in the country’s efforts to contain the coronavirus — and with some 2,800 infected patients casting votes by mail or using special booths, according to reports.
The turnout was 66.2 percent — the highest in almost 30 years — despite stringent social-distancing measures at 14,000 disinfected polling places, where voters had to wear masks and gloves, and had their temperatures checked, NBC News reported.
The ruling Democratic Party and a satellite party combined to win 180 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly, election officials said Thursday, as conservatives suffered their worst showing in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area in years.
The victory will likely embolden Moon’s government to pursue its key domestic and foreign objectives, including reviving diplomacy with nuclear-armed rival North Korea and continuing the battle against the deadly virus.
“In line with the strict command the people gave us, we will put top priority on overcoming the national crisis of the coronavirus and economic declines,” former premier Lee Nak-yon, who ran the ruling party’s campaign, said in a televised speech.
Moon thanked South Korea’s “great people” for “giving strength to a government that’s fighting desperately to overcome a national crisis.”
The voting possibly set an example for how democratic elections can be handled during the pandemic as about 2,800 coronavirus patients were allowed to vote by mail or in person, using special booths.
Soo Yoon (L) and Yoon Kyung (R), members of South Korean girl group Rocket Punch, pose for a photo after casting their ballotsEPA
More than 13,000 people in self-quarantine cast their ballots after polls closed, NBC News reported.
In February, approval ratings for Moon and his Democratic Party took a major blow when the coronavirus hit South Korea, which was already struggling with a stagnant economy and beset with political scandals.
But since then, the administration’s largely successful campaign against the disease has provided a boost for Moon and his progressive party.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country was 10,613 as of Thursday. The number of confirmed deaths stood at 229.
With Post wires