(VOA NEWS) Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as chairman of Britain’s opposition Labor Party on Saturday, soundly defeating his sole challenger.
A 67-year-old socialist, Corbyn won almost 62 percent of the more than 500,000 votes cast, increasing the support base that gave him a victory last year with 59.5 percent.
His rival, Welsh lawmaker Owen Smith, won 38 percent of the vote. The result was announced at the party’s conference in Liverpool, northwest England.
In his acceptance speech to a standing ovation from delegates, Corbyn stressed the need for party unity.
“Elections are passionate and often partisan affairs, and things are sometimes said in the heat of the debate on all sides which we sometimes later come to regret,” he said. “But always remember in our party, we have much more in common than that which divides us. As far as I’m concerned, let’s wipe that slate clean from today and get on with the work we’ve got to do as a party together.”
Corbyn was elected last year to lead Labor, which governed between 1997 and 2010 but has lost two successive general elections to the Conservatives. He had been a backbench lawmaker for a long time.
Corbyn now has strong support among local party activists, and tens of thousands of new members, many of them young and enthusiastic, joined the Labor Party since he assumed the chairmanship.
Corbyn draws big crowds at rallies and meetings, and his supporters are very active and effective on social media.