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Startups minister leads Seoul mayor poll

SMEs and Startups Minister Park Young-sun delivers an opening speech at COMEUP 2020 at a center in Goyang, north of Seoul on Nov. 19. (Yonhap)
SMEs and Startups Minister Park Young-sun delivers an opening speech at COMEUP 2020 at a center in Goyang, north of Seoul on Nov. 19. (Yonhap)

SMEs and Startups Minister Park Young-sun took the lead in a survey about potential Seoul mayoral candidates, with a handful of politicians announcing their bids for next year’s by-elections.

In the poll conducted by the Korea Society Opinion Institute and CBS on Friday and Saturday, Park was the favorite with 18.3 percent of the votes from 1,019 Seoul citizens, closely followed by former conservative lawmaker Na Kyung-won, who garnered 17.9 percent.

Park and Na haven’t declared their bids yet. Whether Park, a member of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, decides to run for the Seoul mayoral seat will depend on a looming Cabinet reshuffle.

Reps. Park Ju-min and Woo Sang-ho of the liberal ruling party came in third and fourth with 10.8 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively.

Rival parties have embarked on the process of fielding candidates for the mayoral by-elections in the capital Seoul and second-largest city Busan in April 2021. Together, the two cities account for more than 11 million votes, or 26 percent of the total electorate.

The main opposition People Power Party confirmed the rules for its primary race on Nov. 12. The Democratic Party launched an election campaign planning team Nov. 9.

The People Power Party said that four candidates will be selected in the first round, based entirely on a public survey. The winner will be determined by a mixture of party member votes and opinion polls involving ordinary citizens. The latter will determine 80 percent of the results.

In a different poll released by Realmeter on Monday, the rival parties ran neck and neck in Seoul by public support. The People Power Party garnered 28.7 percent support, down 1.3 percentage points from a week earlier, while the Democratic Party secured 28.1 percent, losing 1.9 percent points since the previous week.

Former lawmaker Keum Tae-sup, who defected from the ruling party last month, expressed his willingness to run for mayor. He is expected to run as an independent candidate, as he has said he will not join the main opposition People Power Party. He won 6.1 percent support in the Monday poll.

Former three-term lawmaker Lee Hye-hoon announced her bid Nov. 19, pledging to alleviate citizens’ worries about soaring real estate prices in the capital city.

Lee, a former researcher at the state-run think tank the Korea Development Institute, seeks to appeal to voters with her expertise in economic matters amid growing dissatisfaction with the housing market, which the government has failed to control despite frequent policy changes.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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