Saenuri Party primary begins
By Chung Min-uck
The ruling Saenuri Party’s primary to decide who will run on its ticket for the presidential race begins today with candidates pledging to conduct fair and policy-oriented campaigns.
“Let’s make the primary a fierce battle over the candidate’s policies that can resolve problems in people’s livelihoods,” said frontrunner candidate Rep. Park Geun-hye, during a pledging ceremony for a fair race at the party's headquarters in Seoul, Friday. “The election process should give hope to the people.”
The party primary is a five-way race between Park, Governor of Gyeonggi Province Kim Moon-soo, former Incheon Mayor Ahn Sang-soo, former presidential chief secretary Yim Tae-hee and former South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Tae-ho.
The primary will last until the party’s national convention on Aug. 20 where the final candidate for the Dec. 19 presidential election will be announced.
An electorate of over 200,000 consisting of party and non-party members will cast ballots for their selection a day prior to the convention.
Candidates will hold joint speech sessions and debate forums during the primary.
“I wish Reps. Chung Mong-jun and Lee Jae-oh were here with us today,” said Kim Moon-soo. “This primary is not enough to appeal to people as to why the Saenuri Party should win the presidential election and what we can do for them. The candidates are lacking in many ways too.”
Chung and Lee had declared presidential bids. They and non-Park followers of the ruling party pulled back out of the contest because Park refused to accept their proposal for an open primary.
The Gyeonggi governor had also pushed for an open primary.
Park’s rivals earlier attacked her for referring to the May 16, 1961, coup when her father and late General-turned-President Park Chung-hee took power as “inevitable and the best possible choice.”
“People are entitled to select a president under the Constitution,” he said. “No matter how urgent and desperate the situation facing the nation was, taking over power with military force cannot be justified.”
“This is the problem of Rep. Park’s perception of history,” said former South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim. “The incident was a military coup no matter what. What should be repented must be repented. That’s the way for a leader to go.”