The 13-day local election campaign period got off to a start Thursday with the two main parties fielding the big guns to draw support for their candidates.
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy’s leadership showed up en masse in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday to provide supporting fire for Kim Jin-pyo.
Kim, who is running for Gyeonggi Province governor, is in a neck-and-neck race with the Saenuri Party’s Nam Kyung-pil.
Kim Jin-pyo (left) and Nam Kyung-pil
The ceremony marking the start of Kim’s campaign was attended by NPAD leaders including Reps. Kim Han-gil, Ahn Cheol-soo, floor leader Rep. Park Young-sun and senior adviser Sohn Hak-kyu.
“The elections have two meanings, it is not a festival but repentance, (taking) responsibility not (passing) judgment,” Ahn said.
“We need to give the people an answer to the question what kind of a person a politician needs to be. (The party) will make a safe Korea.”
Following the Suwon event, the main opposition’s leaders dispersed to support campaigns across the country.
The NPAD cochair Kim took part in campaigns for lower level administrations in Gyeonggi Province, while Ahn went to Daejeon then on to Seoul districts.
“Our government’s incompetence and irresponsibility in failing to rescue even one person as more than 300 passengers were dying is an unforgivable crime,” Kim Han-gil said in Osan, Gyeonggi Province. Kim was providing supporting fire for Osan mayor candidate Kwak Sang-wook.
The recently elected NPAD floor leader provided support for Incheon mayor candidate Song Young-gil, who is leading his Saenuri Party rival by more than 10 percentage points.
Rep. Moon Jae-in, the chief of the pro-Roh Moo-hyun faction, provided supporting fire in Busan.
The ruling party, for its part, began its campaign in the Chungcheong provinces with conservative heavyweights including new floor leader Rep. Lee Wan-koo and key pro-Park Geun-hye faction figure Rep. Suh Chung-won.
The party also held the election committee’s meeting in Daejeon after its members paid their respects at the National Cemetery.
The choice of Daejeon as the party’s starting point is also thought to be part of a strategy to use Lee as a lodestone for the region’s voters. Lee is a former South Chungcheong Province governor.
“The Park Geun-hye government and the Saenuri Party have the duty to step over the sadness to bring the people hope, this is also the order the people have given us,” cochief of Saenuri’s election committee Rep. Suh Chung-won said.
At the meeting, former Saenuri floor leader Choi Kyung-hwan reiterated the party’s relationship with the president.
Choi emphasized President Park Geun-hye’s connection to the region, saying that she expressed special interest in it before she took office. The former Saenuri Party floor leader also stressed the steps the president took as a lawmaker to keep the plans for Sejong City intact.
In an apparent attempt to move on from the ferry disaster, which cut the party’s ratings by about 5 percentage points, Choi cited the president’s latest apology, going on to say that the Chungcheong provinces’ support would give Park much needed support.
“I think that now is the time to wipe away the tears from President Park Geun-hye’s face. I think the time has come for everyone to work together to make a safe country, a country where children can be raised without worries,” Choi said.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com