Mayor Oh may quit as early as today

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Mayor Oh may quit as early as today

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s failed referendum on free school lunches, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon is expected to announce today when he will resign.

“We think tomorrow [Aug. 26] is the right time for him to make a determination [about resignation],” a close aide of Oh told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday. “The members of the Grand National Party’s Seoul chapter say the public wants Oh to quit quickly and most GNP leaders are supporting Oh’s immediate departure, except Chairman Hong Joon-pyo.”

The 50-year-old, two-term mayor is agonizing over his crushing defeat in Wednesday’s referendum, through which he tried to reduce the city’s free school meal program. Voter turnout was 25.7 percent, short of the one-third required to make the referendum valid.

Last Sunday, Oh vowed to “stake his post on the vote.”

Oh’s Grand National Party had discussions over when he should step down. The mayor wants to quit immediately, but the ruling party is concerned that if he leaves now, a by-election will be held on Oct. 26 and a liberal has a good chance of winning the powerful post, which could aid the current opposition in next year’s presidential and general elections. If the mayor puts off his resignation until Sept. 30, a new mayor will be elected in the general election in April 2012.

“It is wrong for the GNP to pressure Oh to hang on so the by-election will be delayed,” another aide of Oh said. “If Oh lingers around like a jerk, it will have a worse impact on the party in the elections next year.”

Lee Jong-hyun, Oh’s spokesman, said yesterday at a briefing: “Oh is now mulling how he should take responsibility for the result of the referendum while having close discussions with GNP lawmakers.”

The mayor spent about 18 billion won ($16.5 million) on the referendum. If he quits his job before Sept. 30, a separate by-election in October will cost 300 billion won, giving the mayor a conundrum. If the by-election is held at the same time as the general election next April, it would be cheaper.


By Yang Won-bo, Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

서울시장 ‘10·26 보선’ 태풍

오세훈, 홍준표에게 “즉각 사퇴”


오세훈 서울시장이 곧 시장직을 사퇴하기로 결심했다. 그는 26일 기자회견을 통해 이 같은 입장을 밝힐 것이라고 오 시장 측 관계자가 25일 전했다. 이에 따라 서울시장 보궐선거는 10월 26일 실시될 것으로 보인다. 무상급식 주민투표가 끝난 지 두 달 만에 여야가, 보수와 진보 진영이 또다시 대결하는 상황이 발생하는 것이다.

 오 시장은 25일 한나라당 홍준표 대표와 황우여 원내대표 등에게 전화를 걸어 “무상급식 주민투표가 무산돼 사퇴를 해야 하는 만큼 시간을 끌기보다 빨리 물러나는 게 맞다고 본다”고 말했다고 당의 핵심 관계자가 전했다. 오 시장은 또 “주민투표율 25.7%는 지난해 6·2 지방선거 때의 서울시장 득표율(25.4%)보다 높고, 그건 보수층의 결집을 확인하는 것인 만큼 10월에 보궐선거를 치르더라도 야권을 이길 수 있다”고 말했다고 이 관계자는 밝혔다. 오 시장은 26일 오후에 이같은 입장을 밝힐 걸로 보인다. 이명박 대통령이 몽골 등 해외 순방을 마치고 26일 오전 10시쯤 귀국하는 점을 고려한 때문이다. 홍 대표도 오 시장의 결심을 수용키로 하고 이날 오후 청와대 김효재 정무수석과 만나 보선 대책을 논의했다.

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