Friday, June 02, 2006

Conservatives win in South Korea.

South Korea: GNP is seen as more pro-American as the leftist students ticked off the rest of the population with their arrogance.

SEOUL, June 1 — President Roh Moo Hyun of South Korea received a crushing report card on his government today — his party won only one of the 16 races for big city mayors and provincial governors, the worst election performance by any governing party in South Korean history. The elections Wednesday were the clearest sign yet that South Koreans are disenchanted with Mr. Roh, who has less than two years left in office. Recently, Mr. Roh struggled against criticism that his blunt rhetoric and austere demeanor had strained South Korean relations with the United States, and created a widening division over policies ranging from North Korea to housing prices. The Grand National Party, the conservative opposition that urged people to use the election as a midterm referendum on Mr. Roh, won 12 races, including the one for mayor of Seoul. The other three seats were taken by an independent and by candidates from a splinter opposition party also critical of Mr. Roh's government. Opposition candidates, mostly from the conservative party, also won more than 10 times as many seats as Mr. Roh's Uri Party in the races for 230 leaders of smaller administrative districts and 3,621 members of local councils. .... Mr. Roh's election in late 2002 introduced into politics a new generation of left-leaning former student activists. They formed the mainstay of Mr. Roh's rule and pushed for a nationalistic agenda of greater diplomatic independence from the United States and reconciliation with North Korea. They often dismissed their critics as "antidemocratic" or "conservative blockheads." This increasingly alienated millions of South Koreans in the political middle who respected the older conservatives credited with rebuilding the economy from the ashes of the Korean War. Such sentiment turned into cynicism when Mr. Roh's government fumbled with its economic policies, experts said. "Roh's rule has become synonymous with arrogance and incompetence," said Kim Il Young, a political science professor at Seoul's Sungkyunkwan University.

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