April 1, 2023

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Firebrand lawmaker Lee Jae-myung was elected to lead South Korea’s main opposition party on Sunday, months after his narrow presidential defeat to opponent conservative Yoon Suk Yeol left the liberals in disarray.

Lee’s dominant victory in the Democratic presidential race ended a months-long leadership vacancy for the liberals, which still control the parliamentary majority. That reignited his rivalry with Yoon Eun, a relative political novice whose popularity has soured since taking office in May due to a deteriorating economy, policy blunders on education and other domestic issues, and mishandling of cabinet appointments. decline.

Lee Jae-yong, who won nearly 78 percent of party members’ votes, was announced as the new Democratic Party chairman at a convention at a gymnastics stadium in the capital Seoul. In his acceptance speech, Lee criticized the Yin government’s failure to address the country’s severe economic inequality, but also said he was willing to work with the ruling Conservative Party if “they took the right path for the people”. nation. “

He stressed that his main task is to bring the Democrats back to power.

“Today’s convention is the start of our victory march, including parliamentary elections in two years, mayoral and gubernatorial elections in four years, and presidential elections in five years,” said Lee, his supporters cheering and chanting his name.

Yin, who led Lee by a historically narrow 0.7 percentage points in the March election, did not immediately comment on Lee’s victory at the Democratic convention.

The Democratic Party has been without a chairman since March, and the party is run by an emergency committee after the previous leader stepped down following Lee’s loss in the presidential election.

Lee, who called for a universal basic income and engagement with a nuclear-armed North Korea during his presidential campaign, is one of the most polarizing figures in South Korean politics.

Lee’s supporters appreciate his outspoken style and see him as an anti-elite hero who can tackle institutional politics, root out corruption and address growing economic inequality, a declining job market and soaring housing prices.

To his critics, the 57-year-old is seen as a dangerous populist who has demonized his conservative opponents and failed to back his ambitious welfare spending vows with a realistic funding plan .

Yoon has had a rough start since taking office as he grapples with an economy battered by rising prices and unemployment and an increasingly aggressive North Korea, which has ramped missile tests to a record rate this year while threatening ties with South Korea and South Korea. nuclear conflict.U.S.

Yin’s approval ratings have dipped in his 30s or under in recent weeks due to unpopular policy decisions, including an unexplained plan to send children to school earlier, sparking a backlash from the public and forcing him to The education minister resigned this month. Yin is yet to have a health secretary after two nominees dropped out on charges of nepotism and illegal use of campaign funds.

Yoon has also been criticized for her reluctance to meet with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who angered China by visiting South Korea earlier this month. Yin, who was on vacation, spoke with Pelosi on the phone rather than face-to-face. His critics accused him of avoiding meeting with her to protect relations with China.

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