Rhyu stokes a possibility of an Ahn, Moon alliance

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Rhyu stokes a possibility of an Ahn, Moon alliance

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Rhyu Si-min, a progressive political icon and a key associate of the late President Roh Moo-hyun, said yesterday it is desirable for Ahn Cheol-soo to join the largest opposition Democratic United Party to win presidential victory, comparing the independent’s popularity to a typhoon more influential than that of Roh in 2002.

“Ahn is the mainstream of the mainstream,” Rhyu said in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo. “He is a mega-typhoon with a larger radius.”

While Roh’s popularity in 2002 was a strong blast of wind for a short moment, Ahn’s popularity is consistent, Rhyu said, adding that he has the ability to attract liberal voters from both the DUP and the Saenuri Party.

In his appearance on CBS radio Wednesday, Rhyu, former co-chairman of the Unified Progressive Party and former health and welfare minister of the Roh government, also talked about Ahn’s prospects in the presidential race.

Although Ahn is yet to declare his bid, the dean of the Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology consistently rates in opinion polls as a leading presidential contender.

The software mogul-turned-scholar told reporters on Wednesday that he has listened to various opinions from other people and will reveal his conclusion later. He, however, said he doesn’t even know when the announcement will be.

While Ahn remains ambiguous about his presidential ambition, Rhyu told CBS that Ahn’s popularity reflects the public desire for changes in governance and politics, calling it a phenomenon worth paying attention to.

Rhyu said yesterday that there is a high possibility for Ahn to join the DUP and consolidate his candidacy with a DUP candidate.

As of yesterday, the DUP held four rounds of primaries and Moon Jae-in, former chief of staff of the Roh Blue House and a close associate of Rhyu, won victories in all four regions.

“Without uniting with the DUP, it is hard for Ahn to become the president,” Rhyu said.

“Even if he wins, he cannot run the country. He is popular because he is outside a political party, but the DUP will be the sole supporting foundation for him taking into account what he can do if he actually becomes president.”

Predicting that Moon will win the DUP primary, Rhyu said either Moon or Ahn will make a good candidate. “If Moon has the upper hand, then the relationship between Ahn and Moon will be the critical factor for the liberals’ presidential victory.”

Rhyu also hinted at the possibility that the progressives will endorse a consolidated candidate between Ahn and the DUP.

Although the Unified Progressive Party has no chance for the upcoming election, it must play its role in stopping the Saenuri Party from winning another victory, Rhyu said in the CBS interview.

“By joining power with Ahn and others, we may see a good result,” he said.

He, however, dismissed the possibility that his faction will join the DUP and create a leftist, progressive bloc inside the largest opposition party.

“It is theoretically possible, but unfeasible,” he said.

By Kim Kyung-jin, Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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