DP's search for a Seoul mayoral candidate gets messy
The choice of a candidate to run for Seoul mayor on June 1 is creating a schism in the ruling Democratic Party (DP) between loyalists of former presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung and those who are not.
The nomination committee of the DP decided Tuesday to reject Rep. Song Young-gil and Rep. Park Joo-min, both close to Lee, as Seoul mayor candidate. The so-called emergency leadership of the DP will decide whether to endorse the decisions Wednesday evening.
Last Wednesday, the DP’s leadership decided that the party will directly nominate a candidate for the Seoul mayoral race instead of holding a primary. The nomination committee will select the candidate.
Chung Da-eun, a member of the nomination committee, shared the news on Facebook Tuesday evening, saying, “I was against it, but my opposition was not enough.” She also announced her resignation from the committee following the decision not to nominate Song and Park. “I hope the voices of the party members will be heard by the emergency leadership of the DP,” she added.
An emergency leadership took control of the DP after leaders resigned following its loss in the March presidential elections.
Six candidates including Song and Park have applied to run for mayor.
Song and Park were unable to hide their surprise and indignation at the decision. Park met with reporters in front of the meeting room of the Legislative and Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly around 10 p.m. on Tuesday and said, “I haven’t heard anything from the party regarding this matter. Nothing has been confirmed.”
Song said on a radio program on Wednesday, “This decision is akin to an act of self-harm that virtually abandons the June 1 local elections and destroys the DP.”
Aside from the six declared candidates, former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon was considered a likely candidate but announced his decision not to run in March. Former Minister of SMEs and Startups Park Young-sun is also considered a potential candidate.
Park Ji-hyun, interim co-chair of the DP, expressed her strong intention to “put this right” Wednesday. Complaints by Song and Park and their allies might reopen the debate over whether the party should hold a primary.
Song said on Wednesday, “Excluding me from the candidacy is a preemptive strike on the political return of Lee Jae-myung.”
If the leadership overturns the decision, a backlash is expected from those within the DP who are not loyal to Lee.
BY OH HYUN-SEOK [firstname.lastname@example.org]