DUP narrows presidential field down to five

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DUP narrows presidential field down to five

Five politicians made the cutoff in the Democratic United Party’s primary to represent the largest opposition party in the December presidential election.

Eight contenders were evaluated based on the opinion polls of the party members and the general public, and five candidates moved forward to the final round of the primary, the DUP said.

Moon Jae-in, former chief of staff of late President Roh Moo-hyun; Sohn Hak-kyu, former Gyeonggi governor; Kim Doo-gwan, former South Gyeongsang governor; Chung Sye-kyun, former party chairman; and Park Joon-yung, South Jeolla governor, were selected based on the two-day poll, which ended on Sunday.

The party polled 2,400 people each from the party members and the public, and the two opinion polls were counted equally to make the cutoff decisions.

The party did not announce the individual candidate’s scores.

After a recess during the London Olympic Games, the DUP will hold a nationwide primary tour. The first in the series of the events will take place on Jeju on Aug. 25.

The Seoul primary is scheduled for Sept. 16.

The party has adopted an open primary to select its candidate, and any eligible voters are invited to participate. If one of the five candidates fails to win more than 50 percent of the votes, a final showdown will take place between the front-runner and the runner-up to select the winner before Sept. 23.

The final match could be an important factor because the runner-up could absorb the other three candidates’ votes. Moon, the former Roh aide, has led many past opinion polls as the DUP front-runner, and the possibility grew higher than ever that other candidates, particularly Sohn and Kim, would form an alliance to stop him.

Experts, however, said Chung, who had worked for Roh’s presidential campaign in 2002, served as commerce minister in the Roh cabinet and headed the then-ruling Uri Party, could support Moon in the long run.

Experts also said it is important whom the Jeolla voters support, as the party has traditional ties with the region. Park is from South Jeolla and Chung is from North Jeolla.

Another crucial factor will be whom the loyalists of the late Kim Geun-tae will endorse as their presidential candidate.

The Democracy and Peace Alliance, a group founded by the late champion of the pro-democracy, anti-dictatorship movement, is considered the second-largest faction inside the DUP.

The largest group is the Roh faction, which supports Moon. The so-called “GT faction” has 22 lawmakers. DUP Representative Choi Kyu-sung, leader of the group, told YTN radio that the group has scheduled a meeting last night to decide which candidate it will endorse.

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

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