Rep. Lee Jae-myung, chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, smiles at the National Assembly in Seoul, Wednesday, after exit polls predicted the party’s landslide win in the general elections. Joint Press Corps

With the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) projected to secure a majority of seats in the National Assembly in the general elections, Wednesday, its chairman Lee Jae-myung is highly likely to establish himself as the party’s leading presidential candidate for the 2027 election.According to exit polls by the nation’s three major terrestrial broadcasters — KBS, MBC and SBS — Lee was projected to defeat former Land Minister Won Hee-ryong of the ruling People Power Party (PPP) in Incheon’s Gyeyang-B constituency.Lee, who lost by a small margin to President Yoon Suk Yeol in the 2022 presidential race, is widely expected to run for president again in 2027, according to political analysts.“Lee would be seen as the main opposition party’s presidential candidate if his party wins by a landslide,” said Eom Kyeong-young, director of the Zeitgeist Institute, a private political think tank.The exit polls found that the DPK, and its satellite Democratic United Party could earn about 178 to 197 of the 300 seats, while the PPP and it satellite People Future Party are projected to win 85 to 105 seats.

“With humble minds, we will watch the people’s choice until the very end,” Lee said after exit polls predicted his party’s landslide win.However, some say Lee’s legal troubles will continue to weigh on him regardless of the election results.Lee faces a series of criminal allegations, several of which have gone to trial. These include accusations of Lee providing unlawful favors to private developers who gained substantial profits from a scandal-ridden land development project in Daejang-dong, a neighborhood of Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, during his tenure as mayor of the city. Additionally, he is implicated in the transfer of illicit funds to North Korea. Lee vehemently denies all charges, and the trials are currently ongoing.

“What matters to Lee is the court rulings of his legal wrongdoings. If he is found not guilty, I’m pretty sure he will become a major presidential candidate for the 2027 election. However, if found guilty, his fate will change,” said Kim Sang-il, a political commentator.Lee Kang-yun, a political commentator, also said the criminal charges carry far more serious repercussions for the opposition leader.“Sooner or later, Lee will be getting his first trial ruling for violating the election law among many other criminal cases. If they turn out bad, it would be difficult for him to exert power as the party leader. The presidential election is three years away, but his trials are right around the corner,” he said.Voter turnout was 67 percent, with a record-high early voting of 31.2 percent. About 44 million Koreans aged 18 or older were eligible to vote, out of the country’s 52 million people. About 14 million cast ballots during the early voting period last week.The National Election Commission said it may take longer than usual to count the votes because it is being done by hand, and that the outcome may not be clear until 스포츠토토존 early Thursday.

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