Former Prime Minister Han says she won’t run

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Former Prime Minister Han says she won’t run

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Democratic Party Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu, left, leads Seoul mayoral candidate Park Won-soon to his chair yesterday morning at the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul. [NEWSIS]

Former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook, seen as a likely candidate for Seoul mayor, announced yesterday that she would not run in the Oct. 26 by-election, leaving the Democratic Party without a strong contender and the opposition’s hopes of capturing City Hall in the hands of Ahn Cheol-soo-endorsed Park Won-soon.

Han, a former prime minister and runner-up in last year’s mayoral race, announced her decision in a statement read by Representative Baek Won-woo at the National Assembly.

“This is a decision that was made after much consultation with those within and outside the party for many days,” the statement read.

Han said that she would focus on next year’s legislative and presidential elections instead.

“What the people truly want at this point is change in our political dynamics and a change of administration in 2012,” the statement said.

Han’s decision was said to have come after she found lukewarm support for a bid from leading DP lawmakers.

The DP is now left with one mayoral candidate, Representative Chun Jung-bae, but is trying to woo unaffiliated Park Won-soon into its fold.

Ahn Cheol-soo, the software mogul, announced last week that he would not run for mayor and endorsed Park, a lawyer and his longtime friend.

Park, who had negligible public backing in early polls before Ahn’s announcement, has seen his support grow.

Yesterday, Sohn Hak-kyu, the DP chairman, met with Park at the National Assembly, where Sohn told him that his party’s doors were “wide open.”

“The election for Seoul mayor is a very important starting point and the touchstone for the integration of the opposition parties,” Sohn said to Park.

“It will also be the starting point for next year’s general and presidential elections.”

Park, who said last week that he would run as an independent, left his position in the air as he did not refuse Sohn’s entreaties outright.

“The demands of the people for a new government are very deep,” said Park. “I will be a candidate for the opposition and the public.”

The liberal activist emphasized the need for change and rising above partisan politics, telling Sohn that it was what the public wanted from Ahn as well as himself.

With opposition parties trying to form a unified front for the mayoral election, the ruling Grand National Party has been struggling to find a candidate powerful enough to match an invigorated Park.

Representative Na Kyung-won has been widely expected to be the GNP’s choice, but she has refrained from announcing a run as her party continues to search for a party outsider.

The GNP has already ruled out Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, with Kim saying last week that it would be “inappropriate” to jump in the race and those around him expressing doubts that Kim would run.

Kim Gi-hyeon, GNP spokesman, said yesterday that the party would announce its candidates this week, with the party currently in contact with several possible contenders.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

안철수 이어 한명숙까지… 박원순 위한 불출마 이벤트?

야권 서울시장 후보 사실상 단일화

13일 한명숙 전 국무총리가 불출마를 선언한 지 한 시간 뒤인 오전 11시쯤 민주당 손학규 대표는 박원순 변호사와 만났다. 손 대표는 회동에서 박 변호사에게 입당을 권유했다. 박 변호사는 “야권과 시민사회 통합후보로 나설 것을 생각했기 때문에 그 길로 갈 것”이라면서도 “민주당도 더 큰 틀의 통합을 내세우고 있는 만큼 그런 과정에서 저도 역할을 하도록 하겠다”고 여운을 남겼다.

 회동이 비공개로 바뀐 뒤에도 두 사람은 민주당 입당 문제를 논의했다고 한다. 손 대표는 “민주당은 민주진보 진영의 종가(宗家)다. 민주당의 당심을 얻지 않고는 선거에 이기기 어렵다”면서 박 변호사를 설득했다고 이용섭 대변인이 전했다. 이에 박 변호사도 “민주당에 들어가지 않겠다고 말한 적은 전혀 없다”며 입당 가능성을 열어뒀다고 이 대변인은 덧붙였다.

 박 변호사가 민주당에 입당해 ‘기호 2번’을 달고 나가는 게 선거에 유리한지, 아니면 기호 2번은 포기하더라도 ‘야권 통합후보’란 타이틀로 무당파(無黨派)를 흡수하는 게 유리한지를 고심할 정도로 야권의 서울시장 보선 후보 선출 문제는 진도가 나가고 있다. 한 전 총리가 고심 끝에 불출마를 결심했기 때문이다.

 한 전 총리는 현재 두 개의 재판(한신공영 측에 9억원의 불법 정치자금을 받은 혐의로 기소된 사건, 대한통운 곽영욱 전 사장에게 5만 달러의 뇌물을 받은 혐의에 대한 사건)을 진행 중이다. 이 중 불법 정치자금 사건에 대한 1심 결심 공판이 19일 열리고, 10월 초엔 선고 공판이 열릴 예정이다. 한 전 총리로선 출마를 생각할 겨를이 없었으나 당내 친노무현계의 출마 권유를 받고 마음이 흔들리던 중이었다. 하지만 손 대표 측이 후보 문제에 아무런 언질을 주지 않자 출마 의사를 접었다는 것이다. 한 전 총리 측근은 “손 대표는 한 전 총리에게 서울시장 출마 의사조차 타진해오지 않았다”고 했다. 이해찬 전 국무총리 등 주변 원로그룹도 한 전 총리가 불출마하는 게 낫겠다는 입장이었다고 한다.

 한 전 총리가 불출마하고, 원혜영·박영선 의원 등은 ‘안철수 바람’ 이후 불출마로 사실상 마음을 굳혀 25일 민주당 내 경선은 천정배 최고위원과 추미애 의원·신계륜 전 의원 등만으로 치러질 전망이다. 박 변호사가 25일 이전까지 입당해 민주당 경선에 나설 가능성도 거의 없는 상황이다.

 박 변호사 측근은 “일단은 시민후보로 서울시장 후보 경선에 나서는 게 야권통합을 위해서도 바람직하다는 판단”이라며 “민주당 입당 문제는 서울시장 본선 전까지만 결정하면 될 것”이라고 말했다.

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