Saenuri Party leader Rep. Kim Moo-sung offered to step down on Thursday, taking responsibility for a crushing defeat in Wednesday's elections seen as a crucial litmus test of voter sentiment ahead of next year's presidential election.
"I will resign as the party leader to take responsibility for the resounding defeat in the general elections for the 20th National Assembly," he said during a ceremony marking the disbandment of the party's election campaign committee.
"People rendered their judgment (on the party) with a harsh stick and we were crushingly defeated. All this happened because (we) forgot the fact that politics should only work for the people and fear the people." Kim added that the election debacle amounted to voters' "order" not to disappoint them again, and that his party would make reform efforts to reemerge to represent "warm conservatism" for the regular and underprivileged.
"As a ruling party, we will do our utmost to make good on our pledges to maintain security, revive the economy and create jobs," he said. "Please help us so that we can support the Park Geun-hye government focusing on its state affairs until the end of its term."
Rep. Kim Tae-ho, a leading member of the party's decision-making Supreme Council, and the party's secretary-general Rep. Hwang Jin-ha also offered to bow out, presaging a dismantlement of the current party leadership.
With the core members of the Saenuri leadership resigning, the party is expected to be led by an interim emergency panel until its leadership convention, which observers say could be held as early as June.
In the parliamentary elections, the ruling party bagged just 122 seats in the 300-member National Assembly, failing to maintain its legislative majority. Independent Rep. Ahn Sang-soo applied to rejoin the Saenuri Party, which would bring the total number of its lawmakers to 123 in the new Assembly to be launched on May 30.
The main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea clinched 123 seats while the minority opposition People's Party won 38 seats, emerging as a new political force to be reckoned with. (Yonhap)