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Parties launch election campaign

Ruling, opposition groups concentrate on Seoul, Chungcheong districts

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Published : 2014-07-17 21:17
Updated : 2014-07-17 22:03

The ruling and opposition parties launched their 13-day campaign for the crucial July 30 by-elections, with each concentrating on the capital and central Chungcheong regions.

The ruling Saenuri Party claims that its candidates are “tailored” to each constituency while its new leaders plan to engage in intensive supporting campaigns.

“Local development can only be achieved by a ruling party candidate,” Saenuri Party chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung said at the opening of Kim Je-sik’s campaign headquarters Thursday. Kim Je-sik is running for South Chungcheong Province’s Seosan-Taean constituency.

“Give us an opportunity to achieve dramatic local development by sending clean and professional worker Kim Je-sik to the parliament,” the ruling party chief said. 
Saenuri Party chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung (second from left) poses with party lawmakers dressed in the party’s uniform for the by-election campaigns at the National Assembly. (Lee Gil-dong/The Korea Herald)

Throughout the day, Kim Moo-sung and other party officials attended campaign events across the Chungcheong and Gyeonggi provinces to whip up support for conservative candidates.

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy has selected heavyweights for the Gimpo and Suwon constituencies in an attempt to win seats once held by Saenuri Party lawmakers.

However, the NPAD is considered to be at a disadvantage in the coming elections, with none of its candidates having a clear lead over their rivals outside the Jeolla provinces. 
New Politics Alliance for Democracy cochairman Rep. Kim Han-gil (fourth from left) and other lawmakers are seen supporting Ki Dong-min’s (third from left) campaign for the Dongjak-B constituency in Seoul on Thursday.  (Lee Gil-dong/The Korea Herald)

With the scales tipping against them, talks of forming an alliance among opposition parties are again rising within the party.

While the NPAD leadership has yet to take a position on the issue, senior members including Rep. Lee Seok-hyun have voiced the need for forming such an alliance.

With its candidates trailing in many races, the NPAD began the first day of the election campaigns by holding a general meeting in Seoul’s Dongjak-gu, where its candidate Ki Dong-min is lagging far behind the ruling party’s Na Kyung-won.

After the meeting was over, co-chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil and floor leader Rep. Park Young-sun went to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, while co-chairman Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo headed to South Jeolla Province.

In addition to supporting their candidates’ campaigns, the parties are also intensifying its attacks against rival candidates.

The ruling party has honed in on the NPAD’s Kwon Eun-hee, the former police officer running for Gwangju’s Gwangsan-B constituency.

Accusing the NPAD and Kwon of making a “hidden deal,” Saenuri Party secretary-general Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun claimed that Kwon’s nomination was far from the ideals of new politics.

Yoon claimed that Kwon’s nomination was tantamount to bribery as Kwon appears to have been given the candidacy in return for her accusations against former Seoul police chief Kim Yong-pan.

Last year, Kwon claimed that Kim Yong-pan intervened in her investigation into the spy agency’s alleged intervention in the 2012 presidential election. The former police chief has been so far cleared in two courts.

Yoon has also raised allegations that Kwon’s thesis for her master’s degree was heavily plagiarized, and highlighted perjury allegedly committed by Kwon. A criminal complaint has been filed against Kwon over the testimony she gave at Kim’s trials.

In addition, Kwon is accused of having told a client’s wife to give a false testimony while she was working as a lawyer in the early 2000s.

The NPAD is focusing on the connection between Saenuri Party candidates’ Na Kyung-won and Yim Tae-hee and the Lee Myung-bak administration.

“A person who shares responsibilities for a failed administration running as a candidate is an act of looking down on the people, and shows the Park Geun-hye administration’s arrogance and self-righteousness,” NPAD co-chairman Rep., Kim Han-gil said Thursday referring to Na.

Na, who is running in Seoul’s Dongjak-B constituency, served as a spokesperson for the Grand National Party and for Lee’s presidential election campaign.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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