The National Assembly on Wednesday endorsed President Moon Jae-in's pick for prime minister in a vote that reflected deep controversy over a string of allegations surrounding the nominee's family.
The legislature passed the confirmation motion for Lee Nak-yon at a plenary session joined by the ruling Democratic Party, People's Party, Justice Party and Bareun Party.
Among the 188 lawmakers present, 164 approved of Lee. Twenty disapproved while two abstained, with two votes listed as invalid.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) refused to attend the vote. It has called Lee unfit for the post, taking issue with the fact that Lee's wife used a false address in 1989 to get assigned to a school in southern Seoul as a teacher.
False residence registration is a legal offense that former high-level nominees had committed mainly for real estate speculation. Moon has cited it as one of the irregularities that he said would keep him from nominating anyone for a senior post.
The LKP's boycott of the vote boded ill for Moon's efforts to foster cooperation with an opposition-led legislature, observers said.
"At this time, I believe it would be difficult to forge cooperative ties (with the ruling bloc)," Chung Woo-taik, the LKP floor leader, told reporters.
"The responsibility for providing the cause for breaking 'cooperative governance' rests wholly with the government and ruling party," he added.
However, Woo Won-shik, the ruling party whip, pledged to try his utmost to ensure smooth cooperation with the opposition bloc.
"Though there were twists and turns (in the confirmation process), I don't think they meant a suspension of cooperative governance," he told reporters.
"The primary reason for the endorsement is citizens' demand to stably handle (state affairs)," he added.
Lee's motion was widely expected to pass through the Assembly despite LKP objections.
His official appointment required consent from a majority of the lawmakers present for the vote set up by a majority of all 299 legislators. The ruling party holds 120 parliamentary seats, while the People's Party with 40 seats had pledged to cooperate with the confirmation process.
The parliamentary endorsement for Lee is expected to provide much-needed momentum to Moon's efforts to form his own Cabinet. By law, a president is to appoint his or her Cabinet ministers with recommendations from the prime minister.
Currently, the new liberal president runs the Cabinet with a series of holdovers from the former conservative government. (Yonhap)