Public fatigue is showing over the delayed decision of Professor Ahn Cheol-soo who has yet to clarify his presidential ambition.
Although his aides continued to hint at his imminent announcement with reports of closed-door meetings with key political and social figures, Ahn remained under about his political plans.
“I do not know (when my decision will be made). I will give you an overall answer when it is decided,” Ahn told reporters Wednesday at the graduation ceremony of the Seoul National University Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology.
Ahn Cheol-soo (The Korea Herald)
According to his aides, the decision by the software entrepreneur-turned-professor seems imminent.
“I believe that the Ahn camp is ready (for the presidential race) and is now looking for the right people to share that vision with,” said Geum Tae-seop, a lawyer close to Ahn, in a radio interview Wednesday.
But experts warned Ahn’s leisurely approach to the presidency may cost him support from the moderates with heightened expectations from the progressives.
“I believe that he is delaying his bid for as long as possible in an attempt to dodge the mudslinging fight, but this is not a wise political move,” Myongji University professor Shin Yul said.
“If he announces his candidacy after Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), Ahn will then have less than three months to communicate with the voters as a presidential candidate,” he added.
The ruling Saenuri Party has also upped its ante against the popular professor, who polls closely after its presidential candidate Park Geun-hye.
“It is selfish of Ahn to dodge the media when the people want to hear his thoughts as a potential presidential hopeful,” said Rep. Chung Woo-taik, member of the Supreme Council, in a radio interview Thursday.
The main opposition Democratic United Party, which has long been pining for Ahn’s participation, also seemed wary.
“For the time being, it looks highly likely that (Ahn) will come out on his own (as an independent candidate),” DUP’s presidential hopeful Kim Doo-kwan said in a radio interview.
As Ahn’s prolongs his deliberations, rumors about him have become rampant.
Latest allegations include that he has frequently visited a hostess bar, contradicting his earlier statements that he does not enjoy alcohol.
His aides flatly denied the allegations and launched a counterattack on the police for holding an illicit probe into Ahn’s private life.
Despite Ahn’s ambiguity, however, observers also pointed out that the widespread public yearning for a new political wind will continue to benefit Ahn.
“The key reason for Ahn’s support rate is the public’s distrust of conventional party politics,” Shin said.
“Despite the political offensives launched against him, his polls will remain in the upper bracket as long as parties continue to disappoint the people with their irregularity scandals,” he added.
Choi Young-jin, professor of politics at Choong-Ang University, agreed.
“The public may be getting anxious over his official statement but I believe that he will wait and see until the main opposition Democratic United Party completes its primary,” he said.
“Contrary to the right wing’s claims, Ahn is communicating closely with the public, without even stepping out and announcing his bid,” he said.
By Bae Hyun-jung (email@example.com