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United New Democratic Party to Hold Preliminary Election

United New Democratic Party to Hold Preliminary Election

Posted August. 16, 2007 07:19,   


The United New Democratic Party (UNDP) plans to hold a preliminary election or “cut-off” from September 3 to 5 in order to reduce the number of its candidates who want to run in the UNDP’s primary for the presidential election.

This preliminary election is expected to cause a great stir in the primary because it is highly likely that the outcome will make things different in the primary race.

The focus of the cut-off is former Gyeonggi Governor Sohn Hak-gyu. It is not likely that he will ever lose this first stage of selection, because he has the highest supporting rate among other candidates.

However, if Sohn do not have a landslide victory in the cut-off with an insignificant gap with the runner-up, his leading position will be hit hard and the current circumstances in favor of Sohn would turn against him.

As a method of ranking the candidates, the UNDP is conducting two polls: one is targeting 10,000 persons who would be randomly selected out of its Electoral College, which is made up of 70 percent citizens and 30 percent party members, and the other is targeting 2,400 citizens. Rankings will be set by the outcomes of these two polls.

However, the problem is that the 3,000 party members in the college are former members of the Uri Party.

According to a poll conducted by Dong-A Ilbo and the Korea Research Center last Sunday, of the candidates from the pan-ruling party forces, former Gyeonggi Governor Sohn Hak-gyu took first place with the support rate of 26.6 percent, followed by the Uri Party’s former chairman Chung Dong-young with 7.9 percent. The gap between the two candidates was revealed to be 18.7 percent.

However, from those who support the Uri Party, Sohn received 20.8 percent and Chung received 14.7 percent, where the gap stood merely at 6.1 percent. Contrary to this, those who support the Grand National Party showed much stronger support for Sohn (29.3 percent) than Chung (5.7 percent).

Given the fact that party members of the Electoral College are all Uri Party supporters, the current gap between Sohn and Chung is highly likely to be closer in the cut-off.

In addition, if Chung, who has a merit in terms of organizing ability, exerts influence in the formation of the Electoral College, the rankings could turn out differently from what we expect.

Furthermore, since a rule of this election states that each respondent should pick up two candidates, we cannot rule out the possibility that the relatively less influential figures may get a good result.

From August 20, the candidates are allowed to register for the preliminary election. Currently, Sohn Hak-gyu, Chung Dong-young, two former prime ministers, Han Myeong-sook and Lee Hae-chan, National Assembly member Cheon Jeong-bae and Shin Ki-nam, former minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs Kim Doo-gwan, former minister of Health and Welfare Rhyu Si-min, and former National Assembly member Choo Mi-ae are expected to declare their candidacies.

However, the fact that the UNDP has various groups within the party, including a pro-president Roh group, an anti-president Roh group, and an anti-Grand National Party group make it difficult to predict the respondents’ choices.

Considering that each respondent is given two choices, no respondent is expected to pick one from pro-Roh group and another from anti-Roh group. In other words, respondents won’t pick former Gyeonggi Governor Sohn Hak-gyu and former prime ministers Lee Hae-chan as their two choices.

Regarding this, a source from former prime minister Lee Hae-chan’s supporting group said that, “If respondents choose one influential figure coupled with a less powerful candidate, the outcome of the election will turn out to be different from what we expect,” adding, “This is because respondents don’t support rivals of their favorites.”

Because of this, respondents are likely to vote for either their favorites or the most influential figures, and another vote will probably go to less powerful candidates or those other than the rivals of their favorites.