DP forced to delay presidential primary by five weeks

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DP forced to delay presidential primary by five weeks

Rep. Lee Sang-min, chairman of the Democratic Party's presidential primary management committee, speaks at a committee meeting on July 14.  [NEWS1]

Rep. Lee Sang-min, chairman of the Democratic Party's presidential primary management committee, speaks at a committee meeting on July 14. [NEWS1]

The ruling party announced a five-week delay in its presidential primary due to the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.  
The Democratic Party (DP) held a Supreme Council meeting Monday afternoon and approved a postponement of the presidential primary schedule by five weeks. Originally, the party was supposed to elect its presidential candidate on Sept. 5. Now that will be done on Oct. 10.
If the party is forced to hold a runoff because no candidate wins a majority in a first round, the final nomination will be announced later than Oct. 10.  
“We took into account the Level 4 social distancing measures, and also considered the Olympic Games and Chuseok holidays,” said Rep. Lee Sang-min, a five-term lawmaker who chairs the DP’s primary election management committee.  
Another DP leader, Secretary General Youn Kwan-suk, said the five-week delay was unavoidable. 
“Even if we postpone the schedule by three weeks, the primary date will fall during the Chuseok holidays [of Sept. 20 to 22],” he said. “So we had to delay it further to operate the schedule with more stability.”  
The party leadership had decided on June 25 that there would be no delay despite calls from some candidates such as former Prime Ministers Lee Nak-yon and Chung Sye-kyun, who wanted the primary to take place after more progress with vaccinations. The fourth wave of infections forced the party to reverse that decision.  
Six politicians are currently running for the DP’s nomination. Earlier this month, the DP announced that six out of eight contenders had passed an elimination round,
The six are former Prime Ministers Lee and Chung; Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung; former Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae and Reps Park Yong-jin and Kim Du-kwan.  
The DP has introduced new rules for the upcoming primary. According to them, the party will not use an opinion poll to select its candidate. Paid party members and members of the general public who register to participate in the primary will be allowed to cast votes.  
The party had planned to hold nationwide tours starting Aug. 7 and paid party members were to vote in their regions. Now the tours will start in Daejeon and South Chungcheong on Sept. 4. After voting tours of all metropolitan cities and provinces, the action will shift to Seoul on Oct. 10.  
To form three groups of electorates from the general public, the DP also started accepting applications. The party will make three separate announcements of the groups’ vote counts during the nationwide tour period.  
The party started taking applications from the general public from July 5 to 11 to form the first group. It was scheduled to start taking applications for the second group from Friday till Aug. 3 and for the third group from Aug. 16 till 25.  
Youn said the application schedules for the second and third groups will be delayed.  
The announcements of the three groups’ vote counts will also be postponed. The announcement for the first group’s vote count was delayed from Aug. 15 to Sept. 12, and for the second group from Aug. 29 to Oct. 3. The third group’s vote count will be announced on Oct. 10, a delay from Sept. 5.  
The DP said candidates generally agreed with the need to delay the primary. 
“We believe the primary must be delayed until herd immunity is formed,” said Bae Jae-jung, spokeswoman of the Lee Nak-yon’s campaign. “We accept the party leadership’s decision.”
Rep. Park Sung-joon, spokesman of Gyeonggi Governor Lee’s campaign, said Lee respected the DP’s decision.
Former Prime Minister Chung also issued a statement to announce his agreement with the delay.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co..kr]
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