SEOUL--The Oct. 26 election of an independent activist as mayor of Seoul was a collective shout of "No more" by South Korean voters to established political parties.
The election of Park Won-soon will have major ramifications for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held next year.
Park was the unified candidate of the opposition parties, which had positioned the Seoul mayoral election as a judgment on the administration of President Lee Myung-bak.
The victory for the opposition means Lee will have even less leeway in making policy decisions over the remainder of his term.
The loss of political capital will also likely mean that Lee will not be able to make any decisive moves in South Korea's relations with Japan.
The mayoral election was made necessary after Oh Se-hoon stepped down following a referendum he initiated over a proposal to end free school lunches in Seoul was invalidated due to low voter turnout.
The race was effectively a two-person race between Park and Na Kyung-won, a former lawmaker of the ruling Grand National Party.
Na was openly backed in the mayoral election by Park Geun-hye, the former GNP head who had not supported any candidate since the formation of the Lee administration.
While public opinion polls showed Park as the most popular candidate for next year's presidential election, a major rift had developed within the GNP between Park's supporters and those loyal to Lee.
The defeat of Na in the mayoral election will likely prompt criticism within the GNP by those opposed to Park about whether she would be capable of winning next year's presidential election.
Despite the outcome of the Seoul mayoral election, the main opposition Democratic Party was not able to fully rejoice.
The party had initially sought to run its own candidate in the race, but had to abandon that plan after support failed to materialize. Moreover, the candidate backed by the Democratic Party in the election to choose a single opposition candidate was defeated by Park.
Another factor in the mayoral election was the backing given Park by Ahn Cheol-soo, the dean of the Seoul National University Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology.
Many people have urged Ahn to run in next year's presidential election. While he has consistently denied any intention to run for public office, he will be the focus of attention until candidates are picked for that election.
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