Announcement today on NPAD’s poll, nominations pledge

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Announcement today on NPAD’s poll, nominations pledge

A poll conducted yesterday by the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy will decide whether the local elections in June will be played by new rules and represent long-promised political reform - or whether they will be politics as usual.

The poll, conducted by two private agencies on behalf of the NPAD, separately surveyed 1,000 members of the party and 1,000 members of the general public.

It was originally set to begin at 9 a.m. yesterday and continue through 8 p.m., but lengthier-than-expected discussions within the party on the poll’s questions delayed the starting time by one hour and 45 minutes.

The tabulation of the results will be made this morning and reported to the party’s supreme council. The results of the poll and the party’s decision on whether it will make nominations for races for lower-level positions in the upcoming local elections will be made public today.

The NPAD announced its intention to conduct the poll on Tuesday. Its co-leader, Representative Ahn Cheol-soo, said in a press conference, “I decided to ask the public and party members about terminating the nomination system and follow their advice to end an ongoing dispute ahead of the elections.”

Ahn and the party he co-leads will be deciding whether to keep a promise from the 2012 presidential campaign to stop nominating candidates for elections for city, district and county councils, the lowest level of elected office, which was supposed to usher in a new, more open and less corrupt form of politics. It is the centerpiece of Ahn’s image as a political reformer, which is the basis of his popularity among liberals and young voters. Or Ahn and the party may decide to follow the Saenuri Party, which made the same vow in 2012 but walked away from it in February, saying it would create havoc in the local elections.

In comments on Tuesday, Ahn was already preparing the ground to say that the Saenuri Party and President Park Geun-hye had forced him and his party to renege on the promise of political reform.

If yesterday’s poll is in favor of reneging on the campaign pledge, Ahn and the NPAD can use it to justify such a decision. If it supports carrying through with the promise, the NPAD may have to stick to the promise, and the two main parties would follow completely different rules in June’s local elections.

The Saenuri Party would nominate candidates for city, district and county councils and those candidates could run under the party’s banner and with its support. Many analysts think that competing in an election with the support of a party gives a candidate the upper hand. Some NPAD representatives have warned of a rout for their party in the June elections if they don’t make the nominations.

But Ahn has the most to lose if he walks away from his promise of political reform. The Saenuri Party reacted somewhat snidely to the NPAD’s survey.

“Although it is a little late, it is fortunate that [the NPAD] shook off its self-righteousness and stubbornness,” said Choi Kyung-hwan, floor leader of the party, yesterday.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]


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