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Moon's liberals suffer heavy defeats in Seoul and Busan elections

Conservative wins set to hasten president's lame duck status in final year

Oh Se-hoon, center, candidate of the main opposition People Power Party celebrates with party members while watching the results of exit polls for the Seoul mayoral election at party headquarters in the South Korean capital on Wednesday.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- President Moon Jae-in's ruling party suffered crushing defeats Wednesday in mayoral elections for South Korea's two largest cities -- a huge reversal from a midterm landslide 12 months ago, which leaves him facing his final year as a lame duck.

Voters appear to have become disillusioned with Moon and his liberal Democratic Party over a series of corruption scandals, unpopular housing policies and a stuttering economy. The victories for the conservative camp in Seoul and Busan put the opposition People Power Party in the box seat for next March's presidential election.

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