Go to contents

Rep. Gwon Seong-dong rescinds candidacy for party chair

Posted January. 06, 2023 07:47,   

Updated January. 06, 2023 07:47


Rep. Gwon Seong-dong, a de facto leader among the closest confidants of President Yoon Suk Yeol in the ruling People Power Party, has given up his candidacy for the party leadership election. Some pundits suggest that the candidacy from the pro-Yoon faction from the ruling party has been unified for Rep. Kim Ki-hyeon. Whether former ruling party lawmakers Na Gyeong-won or Yoo Seung-min might run for the election seems to be the only variable for the upcoming election.

“I’ve decided to readily accept the opinion and concern from my fellow party members that a close aide to the president’s candidacy for our party leadership might cause unnecessary misunderstanding to the operation of the party and the nomination of the general elections.

Previously, Rep. Gwon seemed to be planning to announce his candidacy on Friday, showing up in the election camp office. Yet, he decided to give up his candidacy a day before the expected announcement on Friday. Reportedly, Mr. Gwon apologized to his fellow supporters for not giving a heads-up about his decision.

Among the ruling party, a rough consensus holds that President Yoon’s intention may have been at play in Mr. Gwon’s surprise announcement. One from the pro-Yoon faction said there was reportedly “a sort of communication between Rep. Gwon and the presidential office yesterday (Wednesday).” Pundits point out that Gwon’s candidacy would have split up Yoon’s support base by competing against Rep. Kim Ki-hyeon, another pro-Yoon candidate.

Another factor affecting Gwon’s exit from the election is Rep. Jang Je-won, a core member of the pro-Yoon faction, who has decided to forge solidarity with Rep. Kim. But Mr. Gwon said his decision was voluntary, not a result of any discussion with the president. Gwon said he has no intention to endorse any other candidate.

But many of the pro-Yoon lawmakers say the candidacy from the Yoon faction has practically been railroaded for Rep. Kim. During the New Year’s ceremony of the PPP’s party cooperative committee in Songpa-eul district, Rep. Kim Ki-hyeon showed up in the event as a speaker, which was attended by some 20 members of “People Consensus,” a study club of pro-Yoon lawmakers.

With the pro-Yoon’s candidacy boiled down to Kim, the only remaining variable is Na Gyeong-won, a former lawmaker of the ruling party. Currently leading several polls, Mrs. Na’s candidacy in the party leadership election can not only sway pro-Yoon voters but also affect the final ballot. Asked if she will run for the election on Thursday, Na said she would consider various factors. Should Yoo Seung-min decide to run for the election, it might intensify the confrontation between pro-Yoon and non-supporters.

Candidates are cranking their pace as the party convention election committee set the candidate registration as early February. Visiting the house of former president Park Chung-hee in Gumi, South Gyeongsang Province, Rep. Yoon Sang-hyeon announced his bid for the party leadership election. Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, another potential candidate, is considering making the announcement next week after putting together his camp.

jikim@donga.com · 9dragon@donga.com