South Korean Governing Party Holds onto Power

April 12, 2012

In an unexpected turn of events, the conservative governing body, the New Frontier Party, won 152 of the 300 seats, upsetting expectations that they would lose their majority to the Democratic United Party and United Progressive Party . Despite a growing wealth gap, failure of small businesses to large conglomerates, and President Lee Myung-bak’s aggressive stance towards North Korea, the New Frontier Party and their new party leader, Park Geun-hye, left a positive impression on voters.

Ms. Park, who is the daughter of the controversial President Park Chung-hee, is determined to become South Korea’s first female president later this year. If anything, the election has shown that she has the ability to re-energize the New Frontier Party, which has been laden with unpopular leaders.

CSIS Korea Chair Victor Cha noted that the US government was not expecting a victory by the New Frontier Party. The conservative New Frontier Party holds closer ties with the United States, while the Democratic United Party has mentioned that they wish to dissolve the Korea-US FTA and sign a peace treaty with North Korea. A conservative government would allow the US to freely move their troops and continue free trade, but Dr. Cha mentioned that the close relationship between President Obama and President Lee would not be replicated if Ms. Park were to win the election later this year

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