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Opposition parties unite against GNP in by-elections

With the official campaigns for the April 27 by-elections to kick off Thursday after a two-day candidacy registration, opposition parties have successfully moved to form a united front against the ruling party.

In the Bundang-B constituency in Seongnam, Lee Jin-hee of the minority New Progressive Party withdrew from the race Monday, making the contest a showdown between candidates from the ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party.

“We believe that the NPP and the DP have come to an agreement as how to achieve welfare, democracy and happiness for the people,” Lee said, pledging to support DP candidate Sohn Hak-kyu.

Sohn, the incumbent DP leader, is set to compete with former GNP head Kang Jae-sup.

Two other minority candidates stepped down last week, giving way to the two big names.

Kang has stressed his ability as a top leader, reminding the public that he led the party to victory in the last presidential race.

He also claims to have close ties to the Bundang area, having lived there for the past 15 years.

Sohn, on the other hand, is targeting middle class voters who constitute a majority of the Bundang population.

The middle class is no longer satisfied with the given reality and the present administration, and is thus ready to embrace changes, he said.
Ruling Grand National Party candidate Kang Jae-sup (left photo) and his rival from the main opposition Democratic Party Sohn Hak-kyu (far right in right photo) woo support from voters in the Bundang constituency in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. (Yonhap News)
Ruling Grand National Party candidate Kang Jae-sup (left photo) and his rival from the main opposition Democratic Party Sohn Hak-kyu (far right in right photo) woo support from voters in the Bundang constituency in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. (Yonhap News)

A showdown is also expected in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province, as opposition parties are to announce Tuesday a sole candidate to stand against a ruling party contender.

A public survey was conducted up until late Monday on Kwak Jin-up of the DP, Kim Geun-tae of the Democratic Labor Party and Lee Bong-soo of the People’s Participation Party.

The result is all the more meaningful here as Gimhae was the hometown of late President Roh Moo-hyun and all three opposition candidates claim to be Roh’s “political heir.”

The final runner will compete with 48-year-old Kim Tae-ho, the former South Gyeongsang governor from the GNP.

In Gangwon Province, where two former heads of MBC are to compete for the governor position, all candidates have pledged to terminate the suspended plan to build a nuclear power plant in the city of Samcheok.

Choi Moon-soon of the DP and Eom Ki-young of the GNP both held press conferences Monday to urge the city to quit the project, at least until the government safety inspection results come out.

While opposition candidates are warming up for a fierce contest against the ruling camp, the DP rallied against the National Election Commission on Monday for banning an online advertisement promoting the absentee voting system.

“The NEC should remain neutral and independent throughout the election processes, if not thank the DP for making efforts to pull up the voting rate,” said Chung Sye-kyun, a senior lawmaker of the party.

The commission ruled last week against two online adds, based on the election law clause banning all advertisements carrying the name of a specific party within 180 days prior to an election.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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