Lee Jun-seok, a 36-year-old former member of the Supreme Council, won the most votes in the race to determine the finalists for the leadership of the People Power Party. The result is based on the combination of the opinion polls of 2,000 party members and 2,000 non-party members conducted by two agencies with the equal weight given to each poll. Lee won 41 percent, while Na Kyung-won in second place won 29 percent, which means there was a gap of more than 10 percentage points between the most popular candidate with no experience in the National Assembly and the next in line with four elections wins. Others selected as finalists include Joo Ho-young with five wins, Hong Moon-pyo with four wins, and Cho Kyoung-tae with five wins in the order of popularity. Even though it is a preliminary result, it proved that Lee in his 30s has a significant following.
In the survey of non-party members, Lee was twice as popular as Na, but Na was the winning candidate in the survey of party members, though with only about one percentage point ahead. It proved a typical prediction that at least party members will have a strong preference for those with more experience. It seems that the desperate desire of party members for the conservative party’s fundamental shift in its nature is reflected in the election result.
After its win in the April 7 by-elections, the People Power Party focused on recruiting presidential candidates from outside, rather than reforming itself. It is a pathetic attitude of just waiting around until an opportunity comes your way. This is why the opposition party has not gotten more support from people even though the ruling party is more disliked now. The opposition party can be also abandoned by people at any time if it fails to reform itself and bring changes to meet people’s expectations. Less than a year left before the presidential election, the People Power Party should showcase its vision for the presidency by being more dynamic and reforming itself.
The winner of the party convention to be held on June 11 will be decided by opinions polls of party members and non-party members, each given 70 percent and 30 percent weight respectively. Unlike the preliminary result, the survey of party members will be given more weight this time, which makes it less predictable. There is a growing concern that old practices of factional conflicts and malicious propaganda will re-emerge as party members are given more weight. However, the public is viewing the party convention as a touchstone of the conservative party’s ability to reform and change. The past experiences of the party’s chaotic and confrontational elections should not be repeated. The popularity of Lee is a clear message to the convention.