Moon Jae-in, the front-runner in popular polls ahead of the snap May 9 presidential election, gained the nomination from the Democratic Party, the main opposition holding the largest seat in the National Assembly, raising his hopes for the second bid for the highest post in South Korea that has become vacant through removal of President Park Geun-hye.
Moon won by a landslide in all of the party’s four primaries that counted votes of representatives and ordinary citizens. In the final round on Monday that covered the Seoul metropolitan area, Jeju Island and Gangwon Province, Moon secured 60.4 percent or 399,934 votes, followed by Seongnam City Mayor Lee Jae-myung with 22 percent and South Chungcheong Province Governor An Hee-jung with 17.3 percent.
Moon became the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer without a runoff vote by sweeping all regional primaries where he earned a comfortable of 57 percent votes in total. Ahn came in second place with 21.5 percent votes and Lee in third with 21.2 percent support.
"The upcoming presidential election is not a fight of liberals versus conservatives. We need to choose justice over injustice. We need to follow rationality rather than irrationality," said Moon in his acceptance speech. "We should throw away our dichotomous thinking that divides us into left or right and liberals or conservatives. We must end the era of confrontation and disunion," he stressed. Moon, former chief of staff for the late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, was defeated by Park in 2012 election.
People’s Party, a splinter party that divorced with the DP due to fallout with Moon, will formerly announce Ahn Cheol-soo, founder and former co-leader of the party as its candidate to pit against Moon. The entrepreneur-turned-politician has become a shoo-in by most accounts as he won all six rounds of previous primaries to secure more than 70 percent support. Ahn had bowed out of the 2012 race to throw in support for Moon.
Recent polls place Moon at the lead with Ahn chasing fast.
Other contenders are Hong Joon-Pyo of the conservative Liberal Korea Party, Yoo Seung-min of the Bareun Party and Sim Sang-jung of the Justice Party.
This year, the country will elect its 19th president on May instead of original December as the election calendar has been pulled up by seven months after the Constitutional Court on March 10 upheld legislative motion and dismissed the country’s first female president from office before termination of her tenure over corruption and power abuse scandal.
By Kang Gye-man and Oh Soo-hyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]