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[Opinion] Consolidation Drama

Posted September. 15, 2007 05:06,   


On November 22, 2002, with 27 days left before the 16th presidential election, Democratic Party candidate Roh Moo-hyun and National Alliance 21 candidate Chung Mong-joon agreed to consolidate their candidacy after a poll. Two days later, the two were consolidated into Roh’s candidacy, which led the others by 4.6% points in the poll. At night on the eve of the election, Chung proclaimed the nullification of the agreement, but it was only after candidate Roh had laid the grounds for victory thanks to the effects of the consolidation.

‘Memories of consolidation’ are being recalled 5 years later. Yesterday, two candidates for the competitive election of the United New Democratic Party (UNDP), Lee Hae-chan and Han Myeong-sook, concluded a consolidation through a poll. Among the three pro-Roh Moo-hyun candidates, two, excluding candidate Rhyu Si-min for now, merged into one right before the relay voting of the competitive election that starts today. When the votes that Lee, Rhyu and Han obtained in the cut-off preliminary election announced on September 5 are added up, the total will surpass the number of votes for candidates Sohn Hak-gyu and Chung Dong-young. But as long as the Electoral College is not a bunch of pebbles, they won’t be able to take it all. Moreover candidate Rhyu has said, “I’m not a bland person who is running for consolidation.” Whether he will keep his word or not remains to be seen.

Though Lee and Han said that they would hold a closed poll independently and that the one with less points would back the other, a report titled ‘Preferences of the 5 UNDP Preliminary Candidates’ written by an institution called Realmeter three days earlier showed lower support for Lee (6.9%) than Han (9.0%). Above them were candidates Sohn Hak-gyu (25.2%) Chung Dong-young (16.9%), and Rhyu Si-min (14.7%), in order. According to this poll, the fifth in rank drove out the fourth. And he seems poised to drive out the third and become the first.

In the preference level investigated by Realmeter, including candidates Lee Myung-bak, Mun Guk-hyeon, Gwon Yeong-gil, and Chough Soon-hyung, Lee Hae-chan (3.6%) was ranked lower than candidates Lee Myung-bak (53.4%), Sohn Hak-gyu (9.2%), Chung Dong-young (6.6%) and Rhyu Si-min (6.2%). “What does that matter? I’m the one not vetoed by either the former president Kim Dae-jung or the current president Roh Moo-hyun. If I go through a number of consolidation dramas successfully, the next [presidency] will be mine.” Such seems to be the political architecture of candidate Lee Hae-chan. Does that mean the voters should be victimized by not having other choices? That is a problem.

Editorial Writer Lee Jin-nyong, jinnyong@donga.com