DP leadership selection begins

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DP leadership selection begins

Ahead of Saturday’s convention to elect a new leadership, the Democratic Party yesterday began two-day phone voting by its members and public opinion polls.

Through the convention, the largest opposition party will elect a new chairman and four Supreme Council members, who will lead the party through the October by-elections and next year’s local elections.

The new leadership will try to turn around a party still struggling to recover its relevance following bitter defeats in the December presidential election and last month’s by-elections and factional infighting. The party also returned to its old name and retired the name Democratic United Party last week.

Representatives Kim Han-gill and Lee Yong-sup are running to become the new chairman, while seven contenders are running for the four seats on the Supreme Council.

The leadership will be selected through a combination of two kinds of voting and opinion surveys. Fifty percent of the scores for candidates will come from direct voting by party delegates, while 30 percent will come from phone voting by party members. The remaining 20 percent will come from opinion polls.

In the phone voting using an automated response system, 102,592 registered Democrats who have paid memberships fees were scheduled to vote yesterday and today.

The party commissioned two polling companies to conduct surveys of random samples of 1,000 respondents each.

After Kim was seen as the frontrunner in the DP chairman contest, Representative Kang Gi-jung announced Monday his decision to drop out of the race and threw his support to Lee.

The latest opinion polls indicate a neck-and-neck race between Kim and Lee.

An opinion survey was conducted by RealMeter and OhMyNews on Tuesday and Kim won 47.8 percent while Lee won 42.5 percent. Kim’s 5.3-percentage-point lead still fell within the margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Kim and Lee had a final debate on Tuesday and the DUP’s defeat in the December presidential election was once again the hottest topic.

Kim held Lee, who was in charge of policy pledges for the campaign of DUP contender Moon Jae-in, accountable for the defeat. Lee criticized Kim for showing no support for Moon’s campaign.

Kim also condemned Lee for creating an electoral alliance with Kang at the last minute to prevent him from winning. Lee criticized Kim for having defected from the party in 2007 for his own political interests.

Yesterday Lee stepped up his offensive. In an interview with TBS yesterday morning, Lee said many Democrats are uneasy about what Kim will do now that liberal darling Ahn Cheol-soo has won a seat in the National Assembly. Asked if Kim and Ahn will join hands to create a new political force, Lee said, “I think there’s more than enough possibility.”

On Monday, Kim told YTN that it is necessary for the DP to reform to win back supporters who have migrated to support Ahn.

Many people who back Ahn are former DP supporters who felt disappointed with the party, Kim said.

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