Move sets DP against GNP

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Move sets DP against GNP

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Sohn Hak-kyu

Sohn Hak-kyu, the Democratic Party chairman, declared his bid to run in next month’s by-election to represent Bundang in the National Assembly, upping the ante in the political game against the ruling Grand National Party.

“I can no longer allow our country’s chasm to create more enemies,” Sohn said, vowing to mend the rupture. “Bundang is a well-known middle-class neighborhood. Unless the middle class shows support, Korea’s destiny won’t change. I will overcome our society’s cynicism and despair.”

Sohn also said his race won’t be about a fight against the GNP.

“It will be a fight against those who do not care about the country’s chasm,” he said.

In addition to the Gangwon gubernatorial race, three National Assembly positions are up for grabs in the April 27 by-elections - the Bundang B district in Seongnam, Gyeonggi; Gimhae, South Gyeongsang; and Suncheon, South Jeolla.

The Bundang vacancy was created when GNP Representative Yim Tae-hee left in July to become the Blue House chief of staff. While Bundang has been a traditional GNP stronghold, Yim had earlier predicted that the race won’t necessarily be easy for the conservative party.

During the 2008 election, Yim cruised to a landslide victory by winning more than 71 percent of the vote. His two previous races, however, were been neck-and-neck. In the 2004 election, Yim earned 54 percent, while his Uri Party rival earned 41.1 percent. In the 2000 election, Yim won the election by only 5,253 votes.

With Sohn jumping into the by-election, the Grand National Party is facing more pressure to field a powerful politician to match the incumbent opposition party chairman.

“We were expecting this,” said Representative Kim Moo-sung, the GNP floor leader. “We will do our best to select the best candidate.”

The GNP will announce the official nomination next Tuesday. Kang Jae-sup, former Grand National Party chairman, and Park Kye-dong, former National Assembly secretary general, had already made public their ambitions to become GNP candidates in the Bundang race.

Kang told reporters yesterday he welcomes Sohn’s entry into the race.

“And I am confident I am the only GNP candidate who can defeat him,” he said, noting that Sohn had served as Gyeonggi governor as a GNP member, but left the party in 2007.

“He has acted like a migratory bird, serving as a lawmaker in Gwangmyeong and later running to become a lawmaker representing Jongno, Seoul, and now says he wants to represent Bundang,” Kang said.

Kang also urged the GNP leadership to make a quick and transparent decision on its candidate.

“I won’t sit with folded arms if the nomination is made behind a closed door,” Kang said, proposing an opinion poll as the party’s primary by including former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan as a possible candidate.

“Conduct a poll to find out who is competitive against Sohn,” Kang said. “I am okay that if it includes Chung or any other politicians.”

Speculation had been high that the GNP wanted to recruit Chung for the Bundang by-election, despite his repeated remarks that he has no interest in politics.

After Chung was named last week as a would-be paramour in the memoirs of disgraced art curator Shin Jeong-ah, in addition to his recent clash with key government officials and business titans over his vision of “profit-sharing” between conglomerates and small firms, the plan to recruit the former Seoul National University president appeared to disappear from the GNP.

But after Sohn announced his bid, the possibility was once again mentioned by some Grand Nationals yesterday. Asked to comment on nominating Chung to fight Sohn, Kim, the GNP floor leader, said, “I cannot comment on it because it’s part of the party’s strategy.”


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [연합]
孫 "장수가 앞장서야 승리" 분당 출마
재보선, 차기 대권구도와 연계..한나라 '비상'

민주당 손학규 대표는 30일 "장수가 뒤에 있지 않고 앞장서서 싸우는 것이 승리의 길"이라며 4.27 분당을(乙) 국회의원 보궐선거 출마를 선언했다.

손 대표는 이날 오후 국회에서 기자회견을 갖고 "대한민국의 대표적 중산층 지역인 분당을에 출마해 우리 사회에 퍼진 냉소를 극복하겠다"면서 이같이 밝혔다.

그는 연합뉴스와의 통화에서 "그동안 이길 수 있는 사람을 내세우려고 노력했지만 결국 내가 안나가면 회피하는 것, 책임을 다하지 않는 것으로 밖에 보이지 않는 상황이 됐다"며 "당의 책임자로서 책임있는 행동을 보여야겠다는 생각에 무한책임의 자세로 나오는 것"이라고 말했다.

손 대표는 "이번 분당 선거를 통해 중산층 중심도시도 포기하지 않는다는, 민주당의 통합의 가치와 의지를 보여주고 실현하고자 한다"며 "어떤 면에서 보면 이명박 정부를 심판한다기 보다 민주당과 손학규를 평가받겠다는 것이고, 또 이것이 정권교체의 바로미터가 된다는 생각"이라고 말했다.

손 대표의 이번 결정은 분당에 나설 마땅한 후보를 찾지 못한 데다, 당내 일각에서 제기돼온 '손학규 차출론'을 전격 수용함으로써 야권 내 입지 확대를 겨냥한 측면도 있는 것으로 풀이된다.

손 대표는 보선 결과에 따라 향후 정치 진로에 중대한 변화를 맞을 것으로 보인다. 승리하면 차기 대권주자로서 확고한 입지를 구축할 수 있게 되나 반대의 경우 당대표직 사퇴 및 민주당 지도부 개편이 불가피할 것이라는 관측이다.

그가 선거전에 뛰어듦에 따라 이번 재보선은 여야가 명운을 건 정면 대결 양상로 치러지게 됐으며, 그 결과가 야권을 포함한 차기 대권 지형에 영향을 미칠 것이란 전망도 나온다.

한나라당은 손 대표에 맞설 후보 선정작업에 박차를 가하기로 하고 정운찬 전 총리 출마를 포함한 다각도의 대책을 검토하고 나섰다.

한 여론조사 전문가는 "손 대표 출마로 정부 비판 성향의 유권자 투표율이 높아질 가능성이 있다"며 "분당은 한나라당 우세지역이지만 민주당으로선 해볼 만한 게임이 된 것"이라고 말했다.

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