(Bloomberg) -- South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is replacing about a third of his cabinet ministers in the biggest government shakeup of his tenure, hoping to boost support for his conservative party ahead of April parliamentary elections.
Yoon has named new ministers for finance, agriculture, land, oceans, small and medium enterprises and veterans affairs, his chief of staff Kim Dae-ki told reporters in a briefing Monday. The six candidates face parliamentary hearings for confirmation but the president has the power to appoint them even if lawmakers in the body dominated by the progressive opposition vote them down.
Outgoing Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho is likely to run for a seat in parliament in the upcoming election, Yonhap News Agency reported. Yoon has tapped his economic adviser Choi Sang-mok to replace Choo, and the president has not signaled any intention to use the change to embark on new economic policies.
Rather than seeking a new policy agenda, Yoon is freeing up some of his top aides to join the ranks of those who will compete in next year’s election. In doing so, they could ensure the party retains sway in certain strongholds while also paving the way for some high-profile wins.
The justice and foreign ministers may follow suit by leaving the cabinet, according to Hwang Tae-soon, a political analyst who has served as an advisor to senior lawmakers.
The fact that three of the six nominees are women suggests Yoon may also be aiming to appeal to female voters, Hwang said.
Exit polls in the presidential election last year showed younger women voters overwhelmingly supported Yoon’s opponent.
Last week, Yoon created a new position for policy and replaced all five of his senior secretaries, in a bid to consolidate power ahead of the vote for all members of the unicameral parliament.
Read: South Korea President Forms New Post for Policy Ahead of Vote
South Korean presidents serve a single five-year term, and the April polls will determine whether he can push through his agenda or if he’ll continue to face gridlock in the body for the three years left in his term.
If Yoon’s conservative People Power Party seizes control of parliament from the opposition, it is likely to push through economic policies that include taking on powerful labor unions, reducing regulations on businesses, and tax cuts for companies and on real estate transactions.
--With assistance from Shinhye Kang.
(Adds analyst’s comment)
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