DUP launches team to prepare for presidental bid
The clock is ticking for presidential contenders of the Democratic United Party as the largest opposition party elected its new leadership and switched modes to prepare for the December presidential election.
The DUP yesterday launched the preparation committee for its presidential primary and appointed Representative Choo Mi-ae as chair of the committee.
The committee will decide the schedule and rules of the primary and initiate amendments on the party constitution and regulations to hold the primary.
The first politician to officially announce his presidential ambition is Representative Cho Kyung-tae, a three-term lawmaker representing Busan.
In a press conference on Monday, Cho said he would join the DUP’s presidential primary and announced his pledges, including a plan to encourage conglomerates to relocate their headquarters out of Seoul and a program to gradually shut down nuclear power plants and invest in a new, recycled energy industry.
Sohn Hak-kyu, the former chair of the DUP, will hold a press conference tomorrow to formally announce his bid. The event is scheduled to take place in front of the statue of King Sejong the Great at Gwanghwamun Plaza in central Seoul. “It is to show his determination to become a leader like King Sejong the Great, who was known as a great communicator,” said an aide to Sohn.
Although Sohn had initially planned to announce his bid at the end of this month, he advanced the timing as the liberal opposition party moved quickly to prepare for the election. At the press conference, Sohn will present his vision for “sustainable liberalism” and stress the importance of strengthening the country’s growth engines.
Moon Jae-in, former chief of staff to the late President Roh Moo-hyun, will announce his bid. “I have decided to run in the primary, because I am the most competitive candidate in our party,” Moon said yesterday at the DUP meeting on political reform. “I will formally declare my bid on Sunday.”
Moon also showed confidence that he would be a stronger candidate than liberal darling Ahn Cheol-soo. “Compared to Ahn, I have the advantage of having the support of a democratic political party with a tradition,” Moon said. “If the DUP unites to support me, my position will be far stronger than what it is now.”
Moon’s presidential ambition once faced a crisis after he was criticized as a mastermind of the power split between the party’s largest factions during the process of the DUP leadership election. The Roh faction and the Kim Dae-jung loyalists made a deal before the elections of the new floor leader and chair that they would split the power to improve the party’s competitiveness against the ruling Saenuri Party.
Under the arrangement, Lee Hae-chan of the Roh faction was elected the new chair and Park Jie-won of the Kim faction was elected as the new floor leader, and the two sides agreed to support Moon as their presidential candidate.
After Lee was elected as the new chair on Saturday, Moon’s presidential bid appeared to have gained momentum. In his statement addressed to the members of the DUP, Moon said “I will sacrifice myself to build a new future by uniting the party beyond regionalism and factionalism.”
Another presidential contender, South Gyeongsang Governor Kim Doo-kwan, also began taking traditional steps to announce his bid. He day and scheduled a massive celebration event for the book yesterday in Changwon, South Gyeongsang.
“Because his supporters will largely show up, it will be the de facto launch of his campaign,” an aide to Kim said.
Eleven lawmakers of the DUP also held a press conference at the National Assembly on Monday to urge Kim to announce his presidential bid.
“Governor Kim has confronted regionalism and implemented the spirit of time to resolve the wealth gap and achieve economic justice,” they said in a statement. “Kim has displayed the leadership of unity and the politics of serving the people, and the people will see a sprout of hope if he joins the DUP presidential primary.”
While the presidential contenders are speeding up their schedules to begin their campaigns, political observers said the DUP primary will actually begin in mid-August because the party won’t want the public attention to be otherwise focused on the London Olympic Games.
By Park Shin-hong, Ser Myo-ja [firstname.lastname@example.org]