Large number of non-party voters makes leadership race unpredictable
The newly integrated Democratic Unified Party is expected to attract the largest ever voting pool for its leadership vote thanks to young voters.’
As of Monday morning, a total of 230,000 non-party members registered themselves as eligible voters for the DUP’s national convention slated for Jan. 15.
Among them, more than 150,000 come from Seoul and Gyeonggi areas, officials said.
Party officials predicted that the figure may approach or even exceed 500,000 by this Saturday’s deadline, in which case the total number of voters may top 600,000, including the 120,000 DUP members.
“Unlike conventional in-party elections, the upcoming DUP race is essentially open to everybody, reflecting the party’s aspiration to get in touch with the people,” said a party spokesperson.
Last week the party narrowed down the number of candidates who will vie for its chairmanship to nine.
The list included former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook, former Democratic Party floor leader Park Jie-won, former policy committee chairwoman Park Young-sun and civic group-based candidate Moon Sung-keun.
The surging pool of voters boosted the party’s morale but also put some of the candidates on alert, as it is likely to make the race unpredictable.
According to a public poll recently conducted by a left-wing daily, Han is currently taking the lead with some 30 percent of the respondents’ votes, followed by Rep. Park.
Park, though a junior lawmaker with relatively little leadership experience, is widely supported by young progressive voters.
On the other hand, the senior Park, who was formerly considered the party’s top candidate for chairman, was ranked fourth, catching up with former actor Moon.
“Citizen voters are less likely to be swayed by the party’s doctrines and will prioritize the individual candidates’ image and policies in evaluating them,” said a party official.
In order to overturn the present poll results, candidates are expected to go on the offensive and take an aggressive stance over the coming weeks, the official added.
The elected chairperson, along with five members of the top decision-making body, is to lead the newly formed party through next year’s general and presidential elections.
Eyes are on whether he or she will be able to integrate the newly merged party as one.
The DP managed last month to establish the DUP by merging with the civic group-based Citizen Integration Camp and joining hands with the Korean Federation of Trade Unions, but is still seen as undergoing internal conflicts.
By Bae Hyun-jung