South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party has secured a supermajority parliamentary election riding a boost in popularity over a successful coronavirus response and suppression.

According to the National Election Commission’s figures, the Democratic Party won 163 seats in the 300-member National Assembly while the allied Platform Party garnered 17 seats.

This result grants the centre-left parties a mammoth alliance of 180 seats in the single-chamber parliament, three-fifth of all mandates.

A coalition of conservative opposition parties, led by the United Future party, secured a total of 103 seats.

The results untie President Moon’s hands to go ahead with promised reforms to jumpstart the economy and reverse a slowing external trade.

According to state news agency Yonhap, Moon’s approval rating was flailing at around 30 per cent before the coronavirus outbreak hit the country, dogged with political scandals, a decelerating economy and stalled North Korea talks.

The speedy response to the coronavirus outbreak, with aggressive testing and extensive contact tracing, boosted the president’s popularity up to 50 per cent, the agency reported citing pollsters.

The election could be seen as the first major public and political event following the coronavirus pandemic, which is still raging in other parts of the world.

Although the spread of infections in the country has slowed to trickle, voters were asked to keep recommended distances and single-use gloves were given before voters entered booths and hand sanitizers after casting their ballots.

The Korean Center for Disease Control said that only 22 new coronavirus cases were detected as of Thursday morning after the election.

The latest overall figures stand at 10,613 infected with 229 fatalities and over 7,750 recoveries.
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