Conservatives allied with South Korea’s president won a parliamentary majority Wednesday, boosting the government’s plans to revive the economy, embrace the U.S. and talk tougher with North Korea.
President Lee Myung-bak, a former Seoul mayor and Hyundai executive, took power in February pledging to streamline government, tear down barriers for business and restore ties with Washington that frayed under a decade of liberal rule.
The win by his Grand National Party in Wednesday’s parliamentary vote will make it easier for Lee to push through his agenda.
With nearly all votes counted from the Wednesday election, the GNP had won at least 153 seats in the 299-member National Assembly.
The liberal United Democratic Party, which previously held the most seats in the assembly at 136, will have 81 lawmakers. Smaller parties and independents will divide the remaining spots for four-year terms that begin May 30.
“Reflecting the profound will of the people, the Grand National Party will do its best to change this nation with the majority,” party head Kang Jae-sup said.
Political rivalry leads to riots
A street fight between political rivals spiraled into rioting in Pakistan’s biggest city Wednesday with armed men smashing cars and setting fires. Five people burned to death in one building and two were shot and killed.
It was the worst political violence Pakistan’s new government has faced since taking office last month, vowing to curtail the powers of U.S.-allied President Pervez Musharraf and cement democracy after eight years of military rule.
The trouble broke out when pro- and anti-government attorneys punched and beat each other with sticks near the main courts complex in Karachi. Soon after, armed men began shooting and torching cars in several districts, witnesses said.