DUP won’t run against Ahn in Nowon C District

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DUP won’t run against Ahn in Nowon C District

The opposition Democratic United Party said they will not nominate a candidate for the Nowon C District, an apparent move to embrace independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo, who has declared his bid for the constituency.

Jung Sung-ho, a spokesman of the DUP, said at an emergency meeting of the party yesterday that the interim leadership has decided to not pick a party candidate for the district for the April by-election, in the name of “consolidation of liberals.”

“The DUP has deliberated over the duty to pick a candidate as a political party and the public demand for victory of a liberal [in the district] in order to send a warning to the Park Geun-hye administration,” Jung said. “Eventually, we decided not to elect a candidate for the nation and the people.”

Jung also mentioned Kim Ji-seon, wife of Roh Hoe-chan, the former lawmaker for the district who forfeited his seat after being convicted of revealing an illegally taped conversation.

“The consolidation of liberals is desperately needed, in order to correct the Park Geun-hye administration’s dealing with state affairs,” Jung said.

“We want Ahn and Kim to take this matter into account deeply and use their wisdom.”

Ahn, a 51-year-old businessman-turned-professor, has declared his candidacy to become a lawmaker in the northeastern Seoul district.

Ahn ran in last December’s presidential election as an independent liberal and shook up the race with delirious support from young voters, liberals and people sick of politics as usual.

But after protracted and difficult negotiations with the Democratic United Party over merging his candidacy with its candidate, Moon Jae-in, he abruptly dropped out of the race and endorsed Moon.

Expectations are high that Ahn would win the district.

In every legislative election in the Nowon C District since democracy was restored in 1987, voters have elected liberals, except in the 18th National Assembly election.

After the DUP announcement, Ahn responded to the decision on Twitter.

“It is desirable that a variety of people gather their strength on a path for new politics,” Ahn said. “I will do my best to win the hearts of the local people for new politics.”

Kim Han-gill, a senior lawmaker of the DUP, has declared to run in the party’s leadership election in May, and promised to embrace Ahn and his supporters if he wins.

“The DUP is weak alone,” Kim said on Sunday in his speech for his bid. “We need grand liberal unity to embrace Ahn and his supporters, centrists and all other progressive forces.”

In the midst of factional fighting in the DUP, Kim is regarded as a member outside the largest faction that are so-called “royalists for late president Roh Moo-hyun.”

When asked if he is considering reforming the DUP by merging with a new political party that Ahn might create, Kim said, “That is also an option for me to strive for new politics. Most supporters for Ahn were former DUP supporters who were disappointed with us.”

The ruling Saenuri Party is currently reviewing two candidates to rival Ahn in the district - Huh Joon-young, former chief of the National Police Agency, and Lee Seong-bok, a retired military general.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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