SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea's ruling Democratic Party (DP) won a landslide victory in Wednesday's (June 13) local elections held the day after a historic summit between the United States and North Korea in Singapore.
The triumph in the first election since President Moon Jae In took office just over a year ago is widely seen as a boon to the country's leader, who helped bring together the Cold War foes for an unprecedented meeting after the two sides traded threats of annihilation.
Moon's DP party swept 13 of the 17 metropolitan mayoral and gubernatorial posts contested in the latest election, Yonhap news agency reported, citing the National Election Commission.
These included Seoul, where some 20 per cent of the country's 52 million population live.
Current DP mayor Park Won Soon retained his post for a third term - cementing his status as a top presidential contender when Moon steps down in 2022.
The DP was also forecast to secure 10 of the 12 National Assembly seats up for grabs in parliamentary by-elections held simultaneously, with the remaining two seats going to the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and an independent.
This will bring the number of DP seats to 128 in the 300-seat Parliament, followed by LKP's 114.
The other seats are shared by five splinter parties and five independents.
The LKP secured only two posts, winning the mayorship in its powerbase Daegu City and the governorship of the nearby province of North Gyeongsang, according to the exit polls.
The liberal Moon was elected in May last year after former president Park Geun Hye from the LKP was impeached and jailed in a massive corruption scandal.
Moon, who has prioritised seeking rapprochement with the North, played a key role in arranging the summit between US President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea's State Affairs Commission in Singapore this week, with the aim of dismantling the North's nuclear arsenal.
Moon's poll ratings have remained high with many South Koreans supporting moves to be more open to dialogue with the North after nine years of rule by the more hawkish and conservative LKP.