South Korea’s ruling conservative party suffered an unexpected defeat in a parliamentary election on Wednesday, local media said early on Thursday, based on election commission data, in a stinging blow to president Park Geun-hye. The loss by Park’s Saenuri party, which had been expected to regain a majority, will mean her government will face more deadlock in the national assembly as she tries to push through her legislative agenda to boost a sluggish economy. The defeat is also likely to dent prospects for the party to field a winning candidate in the presidential vote scheduled late next year to succeed Park for a single five-year term.
South Korean voters went to the polls Wednesday to elect to representatives to the National Assembly. President Park Geun-hye’s ruling conservative Saenuri Party is expected to maintain a majority in the unicameral parliament. Recent polls have shown strong public support for Park’s tough policies to respond to the growing North Korean nuclear threat, including cutting the last cooperative inter-Korean tie by closing the jointly run Kaesong Industrial Project following the Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January, imposing increased sanctions, and increasing military readiness to respond to any provocations.