04/10/2008, 00.00
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Lee’s party wins elections, Seoul now waiting for reforms

Despite a very low turnout, result allows the president to start promised economic reforms. Pyongyang issues no comment, for now.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The Grand National Party (GNP), South Korea conservative party, has won an overall majority of 153 seats in the 299-seat unicameral legislature. The great loser is the left-leaning United Democratic Party (UDP), previously the largest party in the National Assembly, which has secured 81 seats. It had been hoping for 100 seats. Smaller parties and independents will share the remaining seats.

The victory is a boost for the new President Lee Myung-bak and will make it easier for him to pass his wide-ranging economic reforms that he pledged to introduce during the campaign that to his election to the presidency last December.

"I think the voters gave the Grand National Party a mandate to change our country greatly," Kang Jae-Sup, a GNP leader, said.

No comment for now from Pyongyang. The new South Korean president announced a new approach to the North, including tying humanitarian aid to the actual movement on the nuclear issue by Kim Jong-il’s regime.

However, official figures show voter turnout was a record low of 46 per cent, the lowest in the history of the young South Korean democracy, this despite incentives like discounted entry to museums, parks and other cultural venues.

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