Moon Jae-in continues to roll in DUP primary

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Moon Jae-in continues to roll in DUP primary

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Moon Jae-in raises his fist at the announcement he won the eighth round of the Democratic United Party’s presidential primary in Gwangju yesterday. [YONHAP]

Moon Jae-in, former chief of staff of late President Roh Moo-hyun, won the eighth round of the main opposition party’s nationwide primary that was held at the Yeomju Sports Complex, the polling place for Gwangju and South Jeolla.

Moon, the winner of the previous seven rounds, once again won by a large margin, obtaining 33,909 votes out of 69,972 valid votes, or 48.5 percent, against three other candidates.

Followed by Moon, Sohn Hak-kyu, the former Gyeonggi governor, earned 22,610 votes, or 32.3 percent, Kim Doo-gwan, former South Gyeongsang governor, earned 15.8 percent, and Chung Sye-kyun, former party chairman, followed with 3.4 percent.

As Moon won the region with 140,000 registered voters, he is strongly predicted to compete with the ruling party’s presidential candidate, Park Geun-hye, as the main opposition party’s candidate in the Dec. 19 election.

A candidate must command a majority when the primary is finished. Moon’s total tallied 46.81 percent by yesterday.

If the winner of the primary doesn’t hold a majority, another vote will be held with only the top two candidates, and a candidate who earns more votes becomes the presidential candidate.

The primary will be ended by Sept. 16, with its 13th round of voting in Seoul. The next vote will be held in Busan on Saturday.

Moon’s victory in Gwangju and in the South Jeolla region was reminiscent of late President Roh’s in 2002.

Gwangju has been considered an “anti-Roh” region since Chung Dong-young, the former DUP Supreme Council member who lost the last presidential election to President Lee Myung-bak, won the primary in 2007 as an “anti-Roh” candidate.

“Moon has secured his legitimacy as a presidential candidate for the party by winning the vote in Gwangju,” a spokesman from Moon’s election camp told the JoongAng Ilbo.

“The final ballot will not be necessary if he wins the next two votes that will be held in Busan and the Chungcheong region.”

While the voting was ongoing, the Yeomju Sports Complex was thick with tension between supporters of Moon and other contenders, who suspected irregularities in the party’s mobile voting system.

When a delegate criticized a woman in her 50s who shouted “Lee Hae-chan [the DUP head], step down from your position!” another delegate yelled back, “Even the leader can be criticized if he does something wrong!” which almost led to a physical fight between the delegates.

The mobile voting system was the most important issue among candidates. “Sohn, who said the voting system was the ‘primary revolution’ in the 2007 presidential primary, is trying to protest the primary decisions,” Moon said during a speech he gave before the voting. “One million voters turned into a strange group of unidentified mobile voters.”

Before the voting was held, the DUP said all suspicions regarding the mobile voting system will be reviewed.

Sohn and Kim said on Wednesday that election inspectors found 3,653 cases of violations in the voting system, the so-called audience response system.

“We checked the mobile voting system and no irregularities were found,” DUP spokesman Park Yong-jin told reporters. “But the party will accept all demands raised by other candidates in the primary race to clarify suspicions about the voting system.”

By Yang Won-bo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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