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Competition among three candidates for Seoul education chief

Competition among three candidates for Seoul education chief

Posted May. 19, 2014 04:14,   


"Will it be competition between candidates or their ideologies?"

With the election race for the Seoul metropolitan education superintendent having narrowed to three conservative candidates versus one liberal candidate, attention is focusing on in what direction and how the race will unfold. Current education superintendent Moon Yong-lin, lawyer Koh Seung-duk, and former Seoul National University professor Lee Sang-myeon are running for the conservative camp in the election, while Cho Hee-yeon, former professor of Sungkonghoe University, has become the unified candidate for the liberal camp.

For now, analysts say that Cho may be enjoying advantage as the single candidate for the progressives, owing to expected split of votes among voters supporting the conservative camp who have to choose from multiple candidates.

In the 2010 election, the candidates of the conservative camp garnered more than 60 percent of the vote, but with six conservative candidates vying for votes, Kwak No-hyun, the single candidate for the liberals, was elected with 34.3 percent voting. Insiders in the educational community predict, “It is uncertain whether a situation similar to the 2010 event will unfold again, but if voters supporting conservative candidates are divided, the latter will inevitably be in disadvantageous position.” Notably, if two candidates other than Moon have low public profiles, the race would effectively be a showdown between Moon and Cho, but this situation is unlikely happen considering relatively high public visibility of Koh and Lee.

Other analysts say that the election could be a race between candidates, irrespective of the number of candidates. The public awareness of all conservative candidates as individuals is relatively higher than Cho, the single candidate for the liberals. In fact, an opinion poll conducted recently by the Dong-A Ilbo found that public awareness of Moon (21.2 percent), Koh (19.9 percent) and even Lee (7.2 percent) was higher than that of Cho (6.0 percent), and Yoon Deok-hong (3.7 percent), former deputy prime minister for education who withdrew his candidacy. As such, if general mood in the conservative camp comes to emphasize candidates awareness, the race could turn into a showdown between top and runner-up candidates in terms of profiles, rather than competition between a conservative candidate and a liberal candidate.

Analysts also say that if the conservative camp successfully unifies its candidate at the last minute of the race, the election could end in a landslide win of the conservatives. On this view, Koh said, “Unifying the candidates is merely a political show,” adding, “Competition that overcomes the framework of political orientation or ideologies will give more boost to strengthening competitive edge of candidates.” Koh apparently made the remarks in a bid to preemptively avoid the situation of having to give up his candidacy, because the lawyer-turned politician, who does not hail from the education community, will inevitably come under pressure to make a concession.