“I have decided to forfeit my candidacy,” Ki Dong-min of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy said. “I will put down everything.”
With Ki’s announcement, three opposition candidates will face ruling Saenuri Party candidate Na Kyung-won in the strategically important Seoul Dongjak-B district in the July by-elections, which is set to fill 15 vacant parliamentary seats.
|Opposition candidates Ki Dong-min (left) and Roh Hoe-chan (Yonhap)|
Minor opposition Justice Party candidate Roh Hoe-chan is now considered to be the opposition’s frontrunner, according to recent voter surveys.
Earlier this week, Roh and Ki began negotiations to unite the opposition under one candidate to face Na.
Na had been considered the clear winner over the opposition candidates in the Dongjak constituency, with some polls showing the former judge to have more than twice as much support as Ki and Roh.
However, a poll conducted Monday showed that Roh as a unified candidate would narrow the gap to less than 1 percentage point. According to the same survey, Ki would have trailed Na by more than 10 percentage points even after absorbing Roh’s campaign.
The announcement is expected to worsen intraparty division within the NPAD.
The NPAD’s cochairs Reps. Kim Han-gil and Ahn Cheol-soo had picked Ki to run in the Seoul Dongjak-B constituency over rival in-house candidate Heo Dong-jun after a much-publicized row.
Heo’s supporters had charged party leaders of arbitrarily picking Ki over Heo. Ki himself had apparently accepted his candidacy with hesitation, according to NPAD officials, because Ki had originally applied to run in Gwangju, not Dongjak.
Saenuri officials also criticized the expected move.
“The move is a political scandal,” Saenuri Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun said.
By Jeong Hunny (firstname.lastname@example.org)