The two leaders of the main opposition party offered to resign Thursday, taking responsibility for its crushing defeat in the parliamentary by-elections.
Reps. Ahn Cheol-soo and Kim Han-gil, co-chairmen of New Politics Alliance for Democracy, said they would step down from the top posts after the ruling Saenuri party staged a landslide victory by snatching 11 seats in the 15 constituencies up for grabs on Wednesday.
“I humbly accept the people’s will. We lost in an election we needed to have won. I take responsibility for everything and step down,” Kim said Thursday. “I will contribute what I can to NPAD’s reform and winning back the trust of the people.”
With the resignation of the two co-chairmen, all NPAD supreme council members are expected to step down, as well.
In their absence, floor leader Rep. Park Young-sun will serve as the chief of the emergency committee that will replace the supreme council until new leaders are elected.
In Wednesday’s by-elections, the NPAD managed to win in only four of the 15 constituencies. The impact of the defeat was amplified by the loss of South Jeolla Province’s Suncheon-Gokseong constituency to the Saenuri Party’s Lee Jung-hyun.
Lee, a key ally of President Park Geun-hye, is the first conservative to win a parliamentary constituency in the South Jeolla Province since 1988.
In addition to the loss of a constituency in its key stronghold, the by-elections saw the defeat of two potential presidential candidates.
Former opposition leader Sohn Hak-kyu lost the race for Gyeonggi Province’s Suwon-C to a conservative newcomer, while former South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Du-kwan was knocked out by Hong Cheol-ho in Gimpo.
By Choi He-suk