Attention pleaseThe left-leaning minority Justice Party fielded former head Sim Sang-jeong as its presidential candidate in the March 9 election. Ahn Cheol-soo, head of the minor People’ Party, also declared his presidential bid. Former Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon is running as an independent candidate to form the third front against candidates of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the main opposition People Power Party (PPP).
Ahn claimed the replacement of the governing power cannot take place simply by changing faces from the two mainstream parties. “The old ill would just be rotating,” he said, calling for an entire makeover and a generational change. Sim called for an end to dominance of the two parties over the past 34 years. She promised to open a cooperative governance based on multilateralism by divorcing from the winner-take-all biparty system. She vowed to rebuild the Justice Party and carry out progressive governance to make Korea a place where everyone wishes to live.
Few believe they have a chance against presidential candidates from the two major parties. Instead, Ahn and Sim would likely be courted by the rivalling camps of the mainstream. For instance, Ahn backed the DP in the 2012 race and Sim bowed out by supporting Moon Jae-in in the last election. In 2010, Sim resigned from her bid for Gyeonggi Governor to back Rhyu Si-min and Ahn united with PPP candidate Oh Se-hoon while running for the Seoul mayoral by-election on April 15.
When they announced their bids, questions centered on whether they would join a certain camp or not. Sim said the talk is the same as asking voters to make a worse choice. Ahn claimed he would see through the race this time.
But their will convinces few. Some think Sim would seek to back a certain candidate to aim for the local elections in June. Ahn is also suspected to have eyes on a ticket to run for a by-election for a legislative seat.
In the parliamentary elections in 2016, the DP won 123 seats, the Saenuri Party (now PPP) 122 seats, and People’s Party 38 seats. In the last presidential election, Ahn came third with 21 percent vote. And in the Seoul mayoral by-elections in April, 15 percent of female voters in their 20s chose a candidate unrelated to the two major parties. Whether a third candidate would finish the race this time, and how well he or she will do, is drawing attention in the upcoming presidential election.