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South Korean ruling party wins legislative by-elections, giving boost to President Park

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea's ruling party won most of the seats at stake Wednesday in legislative by-elections, cementing its majority and giving a boost to President Park Geun-hye's conservative government after April's ferry disaster.

Park's Saenuri Party won 11 of the 15 vacant seats in the National Assembly, while liberal opposition candidates won the remaining four, according to the National Election Commission.

Nine of the seats had previously been held by Saenuri members. The ruling party now has 158 seats in the 300-member single-chamber legislature.

The by-elections were considered a gauge of public sentiment toward Park's administration after her approval rating plummeted over the government's handling of the ferry sinking, which left more than 300 people dead or missing.

Public frustration over fierce feuding in the main opposition party over who to nominate in the elections may have contributed to the ruling party's victory.

In mayoral and gubernatorial elections last month, the ruling and opposition parties split key races. The ruling party was seen as having fared well by avoiding a big defeat in those elections, but analysts said it could have done better if the disaster had not happened.

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