Ahn declines to run, endorses Park
Famed software mogul Ahn Cheol-soo announced yesterday that he would not run for mayor of Seoul, throwing his support behind liberal activist Park Won-soon after the pair met for 50 minutes to discuss who would make a run for City Hall.
The stunning development brought to an end, at least for now, Ahn’s meteoric rise that riveted the public, shook the established political order and underscored voters’ deep discontent with the nation’s partisan bickering.
“I have decided not to run in the Seoul mayoral by-election,” Ahn said in a press conference yesterday afternoon. “Instead, I will pay with an honest and hard-working life by not putting myself first but society, without forgetting the expectations of the people who have shown faith in me and supported me.”
Ahn, who has never held public office, shot into a nearly insurmountable lead in a JoongAng Ilbo poll over the weekend after word got out last week that he was considering a bid for City Hall. He led all other prospective candidates and drew support away from both the ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party.
Talk of Ahn’s possible candidacy led to a media frenzy, with many voters enraptured by Ahn’s post-partisan image and his impressive resume - a doctor turned software mogul turned dean at the nation’s most prestigious university.
“I understand the public has high expectations of me,” Ahn said yesterday. “I appreciate it greatly and humbly. But I don’t think anyone has the right to easily win the public’s heart. I believe the expectations of me are not about me alone. I think it was an expression of the public’s desire for changes in our society’s leadership.”
Ahn heaped praise on his longtime friend Park in his endorsement but said he would not participate in Park’s mayoral campaign.
“I am a public servant, so I am sending my emotional support,” Ahn said, referring to his position as dean of the Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology at the state-run Seoul National University.
“Park has devoted himself to our society, blooming new flowers in grassroots activism,” Ahn said. “I believe he is the person who can perform the job of Seoul mayor better than anyone else.”
Ahn also denied speculation he stepped aside for Park so that he could make a Blue House run next year.
“I was having a painstakingly difficult time making a decision about the mayoral election alone. That was also prompted accidentally, so I have not thought about [a presidential bid].”
Park, who founded the left-wing People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, one of the country’s largest civic organizations, expressed gratitude to Ahn after his friend’s announcement.
“Our true intentions were connected, even though our talks were brief,” Park said. “I think the conclusion is a beautiful agreement, one hard to find in the political arena.”
Conceding the difficulty some may have in understanding Ahn’s decision to back him, Park said the agreement was possible because both were interested in building a better world and not just in the Seoul mayoral post itself.
“I feel far much more responsible,” Park said. “I want our relationship to be more than a political tie, and I want to be together with Ahn to make achievements that can bring about changes to our time.”
In the JoongAng Ilbo poll over the weekend, conducted jointly with Gallup Korea, Park barely registered, garnering just 3 percent support.
Yet the candidates’ standings are bound to change after yesterday’s announcement, with Ahn seemingly parlaying his immense popularity to play kingmaker. In an interview with OhmyNews on Sunday night, Ahn did not mince words about his desire to rout the ruling GNP from power.
Asked if he planned to join the DP for the mayoral election, Park said he would make public more details later.
The GNP appeared to be relieved about Ahn’s decision under the belief that Park would be an easier opponent in the mayoral race.
“Popularity in the political arena is like the steam above a bathtub,” said GNP Chairman Hong Joon-pyo. “I think Ahn fever was not a strong wind, but bubbles. Without political expertise or imagination, a political bid based on sudden popularity quickly runs out of assets.”
Kim Jeong-kweon, GNP secretary general, said, “Ahn is Ahn, and Park is Park, so Ahn’s popularity won’t translate wholly to Park.”
But Hwang Woo-yea, GNP floor leader, cautioned against the possibility of Ahn running for president.
“We want to see if Ahn is acceptable as a politician or not,” Hwang said.
The DP, which hoped that Ahn would partake in its primary, were lukewarm to his announcement.
“It is great progress to field a unified liberal candidate,” said Lee Yong-sup, the DP spokesman.
But other DP lawmakers lamented Ahn’s decision step aside.
“The Ahn syndrome has contributed greatly to changing the political framework,” said Park Young-sun, chief policy maker of the DP. “It would have been greatly appreciated had the syndrome continued to create further stir to advance our politics.”
By Ser Myo-ja, Baek Il-hyun [email@example.com]
한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
안철수 ‘다른 꿈’꾸다
지지율 40% 안철수, 3% 박원순 지지 밝히며 서울시장 출마 포기
#1. 6일 오후 2시 서울 서대문구 충정로 S 오피스텔. 안철수 서울대 융합과학기술대학원장과 박원순 변호사가 13층으로 각각 올라갔다. 안 원장과 절친한 ‘시골의사’ 박경철씨가 마련해둔 장소였다.
오후 2시50분쯤 박 변호사만 오피스텔을 나섰다. 단일화 ‘담판’은 50분 만에 끝났다. 긴 대화는 없었다. 박 변호사가 왜 출마하려 하는지 설명하자 안 원장은 “ 아무 조건 없이 내가 출마하지 않겠다”고 말했다고 한다. 서울시장 예비 후보 10명을 대상으로 한 중앙일보 여론조사에서 39.5% 지지율로 1위였던 안 원장이 3.0%(5위)의 박 변호사를 위해 출마를 포기한 것이다. 지지율 1위 후보가 다른 후보를 위해 출마를 접은 것은 정치권 단일화 역사상 처음이다.
#2. 오후 3시 마포구 서교동 노무현재단. 안 원장과 헤어져 오피스텔을 나선 박 변호사는 20분 거리에 있는 이곳에서 문재인 노무현재단 이사장, 한명숙 전 총리 등과 만났다. 3자 회동에서 이들은 이번 서울시장 보궐선거에서 범야권 단일 후보를 만들기로 전격 합의했다.
#3. 오후 4시 광화문 세종문화회관 수피아홀. 두 사람의 공동 기자회견장에서 안 원장은 “박 변호사는 우리 사회를 위해 헌신하면서 시민사회운동의 새로운 꽃을 피운 분”이라며 “서울시장 직을 누구보다 더 잘 수행할 수 있는 아름답고 훌륭한 분”이라고 치켜세웠다. 그러면서 “이번 서울시장 보궐선거에 출마하지 않기로 했다”고 선언했다.
두 사람의 단일화 담판에서 안 원장의 불출마 선언까지 이어진 시간은 2시간 남짓. 서울시장 출마를 시사(2일 청춘 콘서트)한 뒤부터 불출마 선언까지는 5일 걸렸다.
박 변호사는 “정치권에서는 볼 수 없는 참 아름다운 합의를 했다고 생각한다”고 말했다. 그러나 한나라당 차명진 전략기획본부장은 “새 정치에 대한 국민들의 열망을 안 원장이 보쌈 해서 야당 2중대에 안겨다줬다”고 맹비난했다.
서울시장 선거 구도는 당초 안 원장과 한나라당·민주당 후보 간 3자 대결 구도에서 다시 한나라당과 야권 단일 후보의 양자(兩者) 대결 구도로 되돌아가게 됐다. 대한민국 정치권을 뒤흔들었던 ‘안철수 돌풍’의 결말이었다.