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Uri Party to Elect New Officers

Posted February. 18, 2006 02:59,   


The ruling Uri Party will hold a regular party convention to elect new leadership, including a chairperson and four supreme party council members, at the Olympic Gymnastics Stadium in Songpa-gu, Seoul on February 18.

The contenders for the spots who passed the party’s preliminary primary held on February 2 are Kim Geun-tae, Kim Du-kwan, Kim Bu-kyum, Kim Young-chun, Kim Hyuk-kyu, Im Jong-seok, Chung Dong-young, and Cho Bae-sook.

The candidate who receives the largest number of votes will become a party chairperson. The only female candidate, Cho Bae-sook, will be elected regardless of the number of votes she gets based on the party’s female preferential treatment provision.

On February 17, Kim Geun-tae and Chung Dong-young, who are currently leading the party polls, seemed to be confident of their respective victories. Woo Won-sik, Kim’s spokesperson, said, “The move toward democratic reform and conscience that includes former Prime Minister Goh Kun is gaining support from delegates. Given the result of our survey, the odds are high that candidate Kim can defeat Chung.”

But Chung’s spokesman Jung Chung-rae said, “A series of surveys show that Chung is leading Kim by least 3.5 percent.”

About 10,000 delegates are expected to participate in the national primary, and each delegate can cast two votes for two candidates. Therefore, the decision whom to pair leading candidates with could determine the fate of mid-ranked contenders Kim Hyuk-kyu, Kim Du-kwan, Im Jong-seok, Kim Bu-kyum, and Kim Young-chun.

Candidate-specific votes appear to be concentrated within specific regions such as Kim Bu-kyum in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, Kim Du-kwan in Busan, Kim Du-kwan in South Gyeongsang Province, and Im Jong-seok in South Jeolla Province. As a result, delegates in the Seoul Metropolitan Area have emerged as swing voters.

Each candidate’s camp has met with delegates coming to Seoul from different regions to generate support.

Meanwhile, the hopefuls practiced delivering speeches for the convention because their seven-minute speeches are likely to be a deciding factor in collecting swing votes.

A party official explained, “Given that the 10,000 delegates can cast two votes each, about 500 to 1,000 votes out of the 20,000 total votes are likely to go to a candidate based on their speeches. That can dramatically change the results for mid-ranked candidates.”

Yeon-Wook Jung Min-Hyuk Park cij1999@donga.com tesomiom@donga.com