Yoon Seok-youl, the presidential candidate of the People Power Party, and Ahn Cheol-soo, the candidate of the People Party, announced their agreement on a single candidate of the opposition parties on Thursday, a day before the beginning of early voting. As Ahn announced his support for Yoon and resigned from candidacy, the presidential election on March 9 has practically become a competition between Yoon and Lee Jae-myung, the candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea. As the single candidacy of the opposition parties, which has been regarded as the biggest variable before the election, the ruling and opposition parties are paying keen attention to how it will affect the election.
“We decided to join hands for a ‘better change of government’ to build a better South Korea,” said Yoon and Ahn during a press conference held in the communication center of the National Assembly at 8 a.m. on Thursday. The two said they are one team. A “better change of government” is a key slogan of Ahn. “We will complement each other to bring the change of government and build a successful government with a complementary, capable, and prepared administration.”
“What we hope to build is a government that is forward-looking and reformative and unites people,” said Yoon and Ahn in a joint statement. “We will normalize all state affairs that have been filled with double standards, lies and hypocrisy, unfairness, and other abnormalities for the past 4.5 years,” they added. “We will consult with each other on the establishment of a presidential transition committee and a joint government.”
The two decided to merge their parties right after the election for one team. “One of the things I truly want to achieve is to change the People Power Party to become more practical and moderate,” Ahn said, implying that he may possibly challenge the party hegemony in the future. Ahn submitted his resignation letter from candidacy to the National Election Commission at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The agreement on a single candidate was initiated by a meeting on Wednesday night between Rep. Jang Je-won of the People Power Party and Rep. Lee Tae-kyu of the People Party. It was accomplished after the two presidential candidates had a surprise meeting in the early morning of Thursday.
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea is wary of the impact of the agreement. “The two candidates’ agreement on a single candidate is a collusion to share seats in the National Assembly,” Rep. Woo Sang-ho, the head of the party’s election committee, criticized.
“Politics may look like it’s done by politicians but in fact it is executed by people. I have trust in history and people. I will continue on my path for a better economy of people, peace, and unity,” said ruling party candidate Lee Jae-myung. “There’s only me left between the two parties. I will do my best with a sense of duty,” said Sim Sang-jung, the Justice Party's nominee.
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