Seoul Mayor’s Job in Question After Referendum Fails

Posted August 25th, 2011 at 12:45 am (UTC-5)
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Residents of South Korea's capital are waiting to see whether Mayor Oh Se-hoon will follow through on a pledge to resign after an embarrassing referendum defeat.

Oh, a conservative ally of President Lee Myung-bak, had staked his career on the referendum, which would have reversed a decision by the liberal city council to extend free lunches to all schoolchildren. The vote was seen as a test of the country's commitment to social welfare spending and the popularity of Oh's Grand National Party, which rules at the national level.

The referendum failed when barely 25 percent of Seoul's 8.4 million eligible voters cast ballots, falling short of the 33 percent required for the vote to count.

Oh said he accepts the results of the vote, but did not comment on his pledge to step down if the referendum was unsuccessful. Oh had proposed to provide lunches only to the neediest 50 percent of schoolchildren.