|Vote for Nothing|
The mayor had knelt on the floor and wept earlier in the week as he promised to resign if he failed to stop the spread of populism in the democratic process - surprising those who claimed if he was going to lose his composure it should have been after the recent devastating flooding in Seoul which killed 14 people. He is now expected to stay on in his post and end his seven-month boycott of Council meetings while drawing his full salary.
Early Wednesday, the number of voters was reported to be high, and there were fears that the popular vote would reach the 33.3% quoracy required to make it valid, marking a major defeat for the former member of the anti-democratic military government's Army Defense Security Command, which was charged with internal security, the preservation of loyalty to the regime, and the deterrence and investigation of subversion. But the number of populists arriving at polling stations to exercise their dubious democratic rights tailed off in the afternoon, in an apparent endorsement of Mayor Oh's position and his "Vote for Nothing - Vote Oh" campaign. The final turnout was 25.7% and the mayor is now expected to press ahead with further anti-populist measures, including pursuing action against the kind of populists who voted in the referendum.
Mayor Oh has been intending to use his high-profile and caring campaign to deny children food in school as a springboard to bid for the Presidency, and some progressive liberal media outlets, fearing the consequences, have nefariously tried to portray Mayor Oh's victory as a defeat, dubbing him 'Mayor Zero'. But the mayor stayed true to his anti-populist credentials, and the failure to achieve a popular turnout in the referendum he fought hard to hold now clears the way for him to become Korea's next president with support from groups such as the popular National Anti-Populism Union.
The failure to achieve a quorum in the referendum also marks an important victory against populism in Korea, since the votes that were cast will not be counted before being destroyed, and the political status-quo will be maintained. Experts say this clears the way to impose quoracy thresholds in other populist elections at the 66.6% level, with elected officials remaining in their posts unless a sufficient number of voters turn out and defeat them, which will promote political stability.
But while Mayor Oh can be proud of his legacy, it may yet backfire; President Lee Myung-bak has expressed a willingness to stay in his position despite constitutional rules preventing this, and given his huge popularity supporters say it is only fair that the quoracy level for presidential elections is set around the 99.9% level.
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