Rep. Yoo Seong-min, the estranged aide of ousted President Park Geun-hye, on Tuesday clinched his nomination as the Bareun Party’s presidential candidate.
The minority conservative party thus became the first among the four parliamentary negotiation bodies to confirm its runner for the upcoming May 9 presidential election.
Rep. Yoo Seong-min of the Bareun Party waves to supporters at a party convention held at Olympic Park in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
At the party's Seoul primary and nomination convention held at Seoul Olympic Park on Tuesday afternoon, the fourth-term lawmaker outran his rival Gyeonggi Gov. Nam Kyung-pil in a landslide victory of 62.9 percent over 37.1 percent, according to party officials.
“I will become the chosen one in the upcoming presidential election by living up to the expectations of those hoping for the revival of the conservatives,” Yoo said in his acceptance speech.
Upon fixing Yoo as its presidential representative, the Bareun Party is expected to switch into an election committee system, seeking to gain an upper hand in the tight election timeline.
Yoo‘s win in the in-party rivalry had been highly anticipated all along. According to data released by local pollster Realmeter on Monday, his support rating stood at 2.2 percent, far outrunning Nam’s 1 percent.
The Daegu lawmaker, who had once been one of the closest aides to former President Park, built up his reputation as a reformist conservative when he exited the ruling Saenuri Party -- the former body of the current Liberty Korea Party -- ahead of 2016 parliamentary election and won the race as an independent.
He returned to his home party after the race but later defected once again amid the aftermath of Park‘s corruption scandal and impeachment to establish the splinter Bareun Party.
Underlining such identity as “reasonable conservative,” Yoo has been adopting a two-way policy strategy -- taking a conservative tone on national security and a progressive turn when it comes to welfare and other social issues.
One of his representative campaign pledges as presidential aspirant is the “medium burden, medium welfare,” an idea of raising the taxation rate to a reasonable level so as to improve the nation’s welfare program.
Meanwhile, the party’s dilemma is that Yoo, despite his overwhelming support from within the party, still stands little chance against liberal front-runners.
Speculations are thus rampant that he may end up forming a solidarity with the relatively centrist opposition People’s Party or other independent figures.
But Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, front-runner of the People’s Party, has repeatedly displayed disapproval over a possible unity with the conservative power groups formerly associated with the now ousted Park Geun-hye administration.
By Bae Hyun-jung (email@example.com