South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s conservative ruling party suffered a serious setback in after it lost its parliamentary majority on Wednesday after 16 years.
With more than 90 percent of ballots counted, President Park’s Saenuri Party was predicted to win 124 seats in the 300-member National Assembly, Yonhap news agency said.
President Park’s party was shy of the crucial 60 percent majority that would have allowed it to override opposition attempts to block legislation in the new assembly, thus rendering her as a lame duck President.
For the first time in 16 years the conservative party has lost control of parliament.
“The Saenuri Party humbly accepts the election results and voters’ choice,” party spokesman Ahn Hyung-Hwan told journalists.
“The people are deeply disappointed with us, but we’ve failed to read their mind,” he added.
The left-leaning main opposition Minjoo Party was projected to secure 121 seats and the splinter opposition People’s Party was predicted to bag 39 spots.
Voter turnout was 58 per cent, up 3.8 percentage points from the 2012 election, and final official results still awaited.
“This is a voters’ judgement against President Park. Many voters are fed up with her authoritarian style of administration”, Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies told AFP.
Park has also fallen short on most of her key economic promises, a failure she puts down to legislative inaction.
But critics accuse her of skewed priorities, poor decision-making and a dogmatic style of leadership.
Political power in South Korea is firmly concentrated in the presidency, with incumbents limited to a single five-year term.
Dissatisfaction is especially high among young people, with the jobless rate among those aged 15-29 at record levels.
The elections were clouded by North Korean nuclear threats.
(With inputs from agencies)