Ahn appeals to young swing voters
By Chung Min-uck
Ahn Cheol-soo, a Seoul National University professor, appealed Tuesday for young voters who tend to be critical of the incumbent conservative government to vote in the April 11 National Assembly elections.
“The young generation should lead in setting up a new social structure and they can do it by voting,” said Ahn, speaking at Chonnam National University (CNU) in Gwangju.
The appeal from the 50-year-old former CEO of computer vaccine maker AhnLab comes at a time when their turnout is expected to seriously affect election results.
Political pundits say Ahn’s move will help the opposition parties to win the race by driving voters in their 20s and 30s to actively cast ballots.
The most recent elections showed that they largely back opposition candidates due mainly to rising tuition fees and high unemployment rate.
Ahn was once considered as an alternative to the current field of potential and declared presidential candidates but his failure to clarify his political ambition put a damper on his popularity.
Ahn also called for a rebellion against established politics, blasting it for hanging on to regionalism.
“Yongnam, Honam and Gangnam should no longer be considered a certain party’s political backyard,” said Ahn.
He called for “change through your choice” at the polls. Yeongnam refers to southeastern parts of the country that are the home base of the ruling Saenuri Party, while Honam is the southwestern region that is home to the opposition. Gangnam, an upscale district in Seoul, is traditionally politically conservative.
Ahn kept his cards close to his chest about whether he will stand in the presidential poll slated for Dec. 11.
The potential candidate gave a lecture at CNU and is also going to give another one today at Kyungpook National University in Daegu. The city is a conservative stronghold and hometown to the ruling Saenuri Party’s interim leadership committee Chairwoman Rep. Park Geun-hye.
“As society gets bigger, it is easier for small interest groups to make themselves heard compared to a large number of individuals. In order to break the trend people should actively participate in elections,” Ahn said.
Last month, Ahn mentioned about joining politics if he could be used to contribute to the development of the society, during a lecture at Seoul National University.
He also made it clear that even if he enters politics, he will not be swayed by existing political forces sharply divided by a “right and left” ideology.
Some say the potential presidential candidate’s recent moves are similar to that of his “Youth Concerts” which turned him into one of the most popular figures among the younger generation in their 20s and 30s.
The conversation-style lectures he and Park Gyeong-cheol, a surgeon and celebrity economic critic, gave to the public throughout the nation last year on issues related to social affairs was a big success attracting more than 1,500 people every time.
In a survey of 1,500 voters on possible presidential candidates conducted by pollster Research View last week, Park topped the list with 43.1 percent followed by Moon Jae-in, the liberal’s rising presidential dark horse, and Ahn.
Moon and Ahn received 19.7 percent and 19.3 percent, respectively.