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‘Domino resignations’ by opposition candidates

Posted April. 21, 2015 07:35,   


A ruling Saenuri Party candidate has never been elected in Seoul’s Gwanak B district since the 13th general elections in 1988. At seven elections that have been held since the Democratic Justice Party changed to the Democratic Freedom Party and to the Grand National Party, the district has been effectively the "burial site of a conservative party candidate." However, as voter support of the opposition camp is divided after the Union of the People`s Chung Dong-young chose to run in the district at the upcoming April 29 re-election and by-elections, chances were higher than in any previous elections that Saenuri candidate (Oh Shin-hwan) would win the election. With Chung Tae-ho, candidate of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, enjoying an approval rating of about 30 percent, Chung Dong-young was seen staging in neck-and-neck race with the former.

As the alleged graft list of Sung Wan-jong was released and former lawmaker Lee Sang-gyu of the now-defunct Unified Progressive Party resigned as candidate on Monday, however, the landscape is changing there. Asked whom Lee supports, he remained silent without giving answer. As both NPAD and the Union of the People have kept distance from Lee, one can naturally recognize sea change in politics over passage of time from the 2012 general elections when the United Democratic Party, the predecessor of NPAD, and the Unified Progressive Party proactively sought to form alliance in the opposition camp. “I demanded (unity of the opposition camp), but no one answered, and other opposition candidates expressed concern about even taking photos by me,” said the former lawmaker. Lee had won election through the alliance in the opposition camp.

Before withdrawing his candidacy, Lee had an approval rating slight exceeding 2 percent. As Oh and the two Chungs of the opposition camp are in such a tight race, the direction of voters who supported Lee could affect the result of the election in the district. In the past elections, the ruling party garnered at least 33.3 percent of the vote in the district. “If (opposition) candidates unify, it will be repeating of past precedence, which is truly unjustifiable,” said Chairman Kim Moo-sung of the Saenuri Party.

Also in Jungwon B district in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Saenuri candidate Shin Sang-jin and NPAD candidate Jeong Hwan-seok are staging a tight race within an error margin. Decision by candidate Kim Mi-hee of the former Unified Progressive Party, who is enjoying double-digit approval rating, is a critical variable that will determine the outcome of the elections. NPAD has openly demanded Kim to withdraw her candidacy. If Kim judges she has little chance to win, she could withdraw her candidacy at the last minute as well. Kim says that he will never withdraw the candidacy, but no one knows how situation will change.