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Talks begin on unifying opposition camp`s pres. candidate

Talks begin on unifying opposition camp`s pres. candidate

Posted November. 14, 2012 01:01,   


Representatives of main opposition Democratic United Party presidential candidate Moon Jae-in and his independent rival Ahn Cheol-soo held their first meeting Tuesday on negotiations over the rules on fielding a single opposition candidate in the Dec. 19 election.

The two sides in the morning held talks at a gallery in Tongui-dong, Seoul for 40 minutes after exchanging greetings, but engaged in probing to figure out each other`s strategy.

In his opening comments, Park Young-sun, head of Moon’s negotiating team, stressed “candidate unification through public participation.” Cho Gwang-hee, chief of Ahn’s negotiating team, countered by saying “We`ll try hard to select a candidate who will beat (ruling Saenuri Party) candidate Park Geun-hye.” The six negotiators, or three from each side, resumed talking at 2 p.m. to continue their closed negotiations.

○ Method of devising survey questions

As the method of devising questions for opinion polls is an area where the two sides have collided the most, the result will differ according to the order of questions asked and what is asked. The result of surveys conducted by Research & Research graphically illustrates this.

When asked who should be the opposition camp’s presidential candidate in terms of competitiveness in a Nov. 6-8 survey, more picked Moon (44.6 percent) over Ahn (34.7 percent). But when asked what would they do if the person was the opposition candidate in another survey done Friday through Sunday, those who said they would vote for Ahn "without fail" amounted to 35.7 percent, higher than the 24.3 percent for those who would support Moon.

This seemed to mean that when asked about their “judgment” over who should be president, Moon was ahead but when asked about their “behavior” of what they would do in the Dec. 19 election, Ahn led.

This could also be interpreted as suggesting that Moon has a higher chance of becoming the opposition camp`s unified candidate but also reflecting mixed sentiment of respondents that “Ahn Cheol-soo representing change” will become the candidate.

○ Declaration of new politics could come as early as Wednesday

After speaking to party lawmakers who has been serving three terms or more at the party chairman’s office of the National Assembly on Tuesday, Moon told reporters, “It`s important that we take big, fast and audacious steps,” stressing “negotiations from a grandiose perspective.”

Aides to the two candidates also fought a war of nerves over the method of unifying the candidate. Woo Sang-ho, chief of Moon’s public information team, said, “Ahn once said he would return the right to nominate (lawmaker candidates) to the public and only the presidential candidate unifying convention should not be an exception to the principle.” He thus meant that whatever the method, the unified candidate should be picked through direct voter participation.

In a radio interview, Geum Tae-seop, chief of Ahn’s situation office, said, “The candidate whom candidate Park’s supporters are most afraid of is candidate Ahn,” emphasizing Ahn`s competitiveness in the election. Ahn`s spokesman Yoo Min-yeong added, “Invisible hands seem to be interfering in the process to unify the candidate,” raising suspicion that the ruling party is plotting to have Moon picked as the unified candidate.

The “declaration of new politics,” considered the first stage toward unifying the candidate, will likely take place Wednesday. With the drafting of the declaration`s script almost complete, the camps of Moon and Ahn reportedly had a tug of war over “whether to cut or adjust the total number of lawmakers at the National Assembly” until the last minute. The economy and welfare policy team, and the unification, diplomacy and national security policy team, which will coordinate the two candidates’ policies, will also open negotiations Wednesday morning.

irun@donga.com egija@donga.com