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Three-way Competition for the Ruling Party’s Next Presidential Candidacy

Three-way Competition for the Ruling Party’s Next Presidential Candidacy

Posted August. 13, 2004 21:53,   


President Roh Moo-hyun’s decision to run a decentralized cabinet is closely related to the future presidential race.

President Roh already declared that he would leave ordinary national affairs under the responsibility of Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, and added that certain parts of the national affairs would divided among the Minister of Unification Chung Dong-young, Minister of Health and Welfare Kim Geun-tae, and Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Moon Jae-in. In a way, it is a system to incite competition among them.

Out of these government officials, Ministers Chung and Kim are two individuals that are considered highly likely to jump into the future presidential race. Although Prime Minister Lee himself denies the rumors of planning to run for the presidency, since he is a prime minister with actual power, as the situation changes, there is the possibility that he might be included in the list of “future presidential candidates” half-willingly and half-unwillingly.

At the moment, Minister Chung, who also as the standing Chairman of the National Security Council will overview international and security affairs, is most likely to get a head start in the early competition.

It is known that Senior Secretary Moon will play a significant role in civil affairs so members of the ruling party and the government say that the role of Minister Kim is rather vague.

On the other hand, others point out that civil affairs - with its characteristics of being diverse and little related with each other – will be difficult for only one person to handle, so it will be possible that civil affairs will be overseen jointly by Moon and Kim. Nevertheless in reality, Senior Secretary Moon, who has gained the absolute trust of President Roh, will relatively seem to be taking on a larger role.

In the future, the success of the decentralized national affairs operation system will depend on the smooth cooperation and checks and balance of these officials.

A high-level government official pointed out, “Placing politicians as ministers throughout the administration, in order to prepare them for the presidential election, might lead to an unstable management of national affairs, and there is the possibility of them producing favorable policies for people`s popularity.”

Young-Hae Choi yhchoi65@donga.com