The Korea Herald


Three-way race expected for Seoul mayor

By Kim So-hyun

Published : April 2, 2018 - 16:58

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The Seoul mayoral election in June is expected to be a three-way race, with former opposition leader and presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo running against contenders of the two main parties.

Ahn will declare his candidacy Wednesday, an official of the Bareun Future Party said Sunday. Ahn currently heads the party’s committee for recruiting local election candidates.

Incumbent Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea plans to run for a third term, while the main opposition Liberty Korea Party is seeking to nominate former Gyeonggi Province Gov. Kim Moon-soo as its candidate for Seoul mayor.

The Liberty Korea Party and Bareun Future Party officially say they would not join each other to field a single candidate against the Democratic Party. 

Ahn Cheol-soo is pictured (center) (Yonhap) Ahn Cheol-soo is pictured (center) (Yonhap)

In 2011, before Ahn began his political career, he was widely considered the strongest potential candidate for Seoul mayor with support ratings of over 50 percent. Ahn dropped out of the race, however, and declared his support for Park, making him the lone major opposition contender.

Park said Monday that while he is still grateful to Ahn, they are in different positions now.

“I still feel grateful for (Ahn’s) decision during the by-election in 2011. We were comrades of the democratic reform camp standing up against the self-righteousness of the Lee Myung-bak administration back then,” Park told reporters after an interview at the Democratic Party’s headquarters as a preliminary candidate.

“Years have passed, and now we are in different parties, standing in different positions.”

Others seeking the ruling party’s candidacy for Seoul mayor have begun attacking Ahn.

Rep. Park Young-sun of the Democratic Party said she is “the most competent candidate who can be flexible in dealing with Ahn,” noting how she headed the negotiation team that led Ahn to give up his presidential candidacy to back Moon Jae-in in the 2012 election.

Rep. Park said if Ahn runs for mayor, he would have to explain his term as Posco’s outside director and chair of its board of directors during the Lee administration. Ahn has been accused of rubber-stamping Posco’s purchase of a debt-ridden firm that caused great losses for the steelmaker.

Rep. Woo Sang-ho of the Democratic Party said that Ahn “handed the People’s Party to the Bareun Party on a plate with lies, and was now seeking to band together with the Liberty Korea Party.”

The center-left People’s Party, which was led by Ahn, merged with the center-right Bareun Party in February to form the Bareun Future Party. Nearly half of the People’s Party lawmakers left to create their own party in defiance of the merger.

As for the Liberty Korea Party, its chief Hong Joon-pyo recently met with Kim Moon-soo to suggest that he run. Kim said he would consider it.

Fielding the ultraright former governor would help “bring together conservatives who make up around 35 percent of the voters,” Liberty Korea Party officials said.

The Liberty Korea Party has been struggling to find a candidate as the party faces low chances of winning. Kim, a former labor activist, served three terms as a lawmaker and two terms as Gyeonggi governor.

By KIm So-hyun (