South Korea's ruling party has scraped through with a simple majority in the Parliament after a tightly-contested general election.
With the counting of votes in Wednesday's poll almost over, the ruling Saenuri Party managed to win 152 seats in the 300-member National Assembly, reports said.
The main Opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), which had earlier been tipped to win the election taking advantage of President Lee Myung-bak's unpopular pro-business policies, came close behind with 127 seats.
Although the outcome was not enough to bring about a change in rule in the East Asian country, the conservative Saenuri party lost some ground, losing 13 seats it had in the outgoing Parliament, while the liberal Opposition party increased its strength by 38 seats.
The DUP's coalition partner, Unified Progressive Party, won 13 seats and the conservative minor Opposition Liberty Forward Party five seats. Three seats went to independents, according to data from the National Election Commission.
The National Assembly consists of 246 directly contested seats and 56 proportional representation seats to be allocated to parties according to total votes they receive.
The dramatic upset victory is expected to serve as a major boost to incumbent Lee Myung-bak and the ruling party's presumed presidential candidate Park Geun-hye ahead of December's presidential election.
Park, who took over as Saenuri leader in December, is set to win a seat in the Parliament as she ran as one of the party's proportional candidates.
This is the first time in two decades that the parliamentary and presidential elections take place in the same year.
A presidential statement said "the government will do its best to take care of State affairs and the livelihood of ordinary people in a stable manner and to push ahead with policies for the sake of national interests and the future."
Saenuri party's campaign committee spokesman Lee Hye-hoon pledged to carry out its campaign promises.
DUP spokeswoman Park Sun-sook told reporters that it would "deeply reflect upon the meaning of today and try ceaselessly to be reborn as a party that the people can rely on."
The election results are expected not to have any effect on Seoul's major domestic and foreign policies, whereas an Opposition-controlled Parliament could have affected the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement, says the Yonhap news agency.
by RTT Staff Writer
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