Lee’s exit clears way for Na’s bid for City Hall

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Lee’s exit clears way for Na’s bid for City Hall


Hong Joon-pyo, left, chairman of the ruling Grand National Party, presents a pair of sneakers to Representative Na Kyung-won, right, who yesterday became the GNP’s official nominee for Seoul mayor to encourage her to run a winning campaign. By Kim Hyung-soo

Representative Na Kyung-won’s path to City Hall became a little clearer yesterday after independent conservative activist Lee Seog-yeon announced that he would withdraw from the Seoul mayoral race.

Lee, whose candidacy threatened to split the conservative vote in next month’s by-election against liberal front-runner Park Won-soon, cited low public support and difference in views with his own supporters over welfare issues for his decision, which he announced in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.

“I have limits in winning the sympathy of the people,” Lee said. “I truly feel there is a limit in overcoming the walls of established politics.”

Admitting that he was shocked by his low popularity, Lee, who registered in the single digits in recent polls, said another reason for his withdrawal was conflicts with conservative groups.

“There were some internal disagreements,” Lee said, adding that he could not agree that welfare issues such as free school lunch programs were black or white matters.

Lee’s announcement highlighted the failure of conservatives to replicate the liberals’ success in fielding an independent outsider as a viable candidate in a time of growing public frustration with incumbent politicians and partisan discord.


Park Young-sun, left, the Democratic Party’s mayoral nominee, and Park Won-soon, right, an independent lawyer and liberal activist, agreed yesterday to the rules of fielding a single liberal candidate through a primary.

Park Won-soon, who received a hearty endorsement from liberal darling Ahn Cheol-soo, has remained unaffiliated with the main opposition Democratic Party but still leads the DP’s nominee, Representative Park Young-sun, by a wide margin ahead of a primary to nominate a single liberal candidate.

Lee’s exit and Park’s rise also appeared to illustrate the gap in enthusiasm between the city’s conservatives and liberals, who have become galvanized by public discontent over bread-and-butter issues in light of a sluggish economy, high inflation and what they say is the lack of welfare programs for average citizens.

The ruling but ailing Grand National Party, meanwhile, formally named Na, the telegenic judge-turned-lawmaker, as its nominee in a ceremony yesterday.

“I think the GNP is gripped by defeatism,” Na said in her acceptance speech. “The GNP is working hard to find the reasons why the people turned their backs against the politicians. If we change and unite, we can win this election.”

Na officially registered her candidacy with the Seoul Metropolitan Election Commission yesterday and gave up her seat in the National Assembly. She will also open her campaign office before the end of the week at the Press Center building near City Hall.

But even with Lee’s exit and reports of a coming endorsement from Representative Park Geun-hye, Na faced another potential stumbling block yesterday when Ji Sang-wook of the Liberty Forward Party threw his hat in the ring for Seoul mayor, saying that the GNP should participate in a conservative primary to field a single candidate against the liberal’s choice.

The 46-year-old spokesman of the LFP was the minor conservative party’s candidate in last year’s Seoul mayoral election. Ji received just 2.04 percent of the vote.

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

한글 관련 기사 [뉴시스]

이석연 사실상 불출마…서울시장 `3파전`

10·26 서울시장 보궐선거에 보수단체 시민후보로 나섰던 이석연 전 법제처장이 28일 사실상 불출마로 가닥을 잡았다.

이에 따라 서울시장 보선은 `3파전`으로 압축됐다.

이 전 법제처장은 최근 `복지 이슈`, `헌법적 가치` 등에 대해 자신을 지지했던 시민단체와 이견을 보이며 힘들어했으며 지난 25일부터는 외부 일정을 잡지 않고 거취를 고민해 왔다.

그는 끝내 전날로 예정됐던 예비후보 등록을 미뤘고 28일에는 언론과의 전화통화에서 "개인적으로 불출마 생각을 하고 있다"는 의사를 밝혔다.

이 전 법제처장은 자신을 지지한 시민단체와의 논의를 거쳐 늦어도 29일 전에는 거취에 대한 최종입장을 밝힐 예정이다.

이 전 처장 측은 28일 뉴시스와의 전화통화에서 "아직 거취를 어떻게 할 지 확정된 것은 아니다"라며 "오늘 오후께 윤곽이 드러날 것 같다"고 말했다.

이 후보를 내세워 서울시장 선거를 치른 후 내년 총선과 대선에서 보수시민사회세력을 결집하려고 했던 보수세력의 계획도 차질을 빚게 됐다.

이 전 법제처장이 사실상 사퇴하면서 여권의 서울시장 후보가 한나라당 최고위원인 나경원 후보로 압축된 가운데 선거 구도는 기존의 `4자 구도`에서 `3자 구도`로 압축됐다.

야권에서는 다음달 3일 경선을 갖고 민주당 박영선 후보와 시민사회단체 대표로 나선 박원순 후보 중 한 명을 단일 후보로 지지할 계획이다.

이에 따라 다음달 초부터는 한나라당 나경원 후보와 야권 단일 후보간의 1 대 1 대결이 벌어질 전망이다.

나 후보는 28일 홍준표 대표로부터 후보자 추천장을 받고 예비후보 등록을 마친 후 본격적인 표몰이에 나설 계획이다. 또 조만간 박근혜 전 대표를 찾아 지원을 요청키로 했다.

박영선 후보와 박원순 후보는 본선 1차 관문인 다음달 3일 야권 후보단일화 승리를 위해 총력을 다하고 있다.
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