The race to become the new chief of the governing Grand National Party is shaping up to be a competition among young, reform-minded members from the capital area, with no clear frontrunner, political observers said Sunday.
With about two weeks to go before the July 4 party convention, three lawmakers threw their hat in the ring on the day, joining two others already in the race. Two more are expected to announce their bid soon.
Hong Joon-pyo, a four-term lawmaker, declared his candidacy for the party chairmanship.
“I am joining the race, in order to prevent the leadership race from becoming another proxy war between internal factions,” he told a press briefing, announcing his bid.
Reps. Na Kyung-won and Yoo Seung-min also announced their bids.
Na, a second-term female lawmaker, vowed to make the GNP “a party that can connect with the younger generation,” in a press conference. She belongs to a faction of GNP members royal to President Lee Myung-bak.
Rep. Yoo is representing members supporting Rep. Park Geun-hye, a former party chief and leading candidate for the next presidency after incumbent President Lee.
Rep. Kwon Young-se, a neutral figure between two rival factions, is expected to enter the race, declaring his candidacy Monday. Rep. Won Hee-ryong, a three-term lawmaker who is also considered to be a member of the pro-Lee faction, is also expected to join.
Earlier, three-term lawmaker Park Jin and four-term lawmaker Nam Kyung-pil announced their bids. Both claim they represent reformists who are neutral to the factional rivalry.
All of those who joined or plan to join the leadership race are from Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi Province, except Rep. Yoo who is from Daegu.
On July 4, the party will elect a party chairperson and a new floor leader to organize the party ahead of the crucial general and presidential elections next year. Currently, floor leader Hwang Woo-yea is acting as chairman. The deadline for candidacy registration is June 23.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)