Moon Jae-in wins DUP presidential ticket
Rep. Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) won the party’s presidential primary to become its candidate for the Dec. 19 election, Sunday.
“I will return your support with a victory in December,” he said in his acceptance speech after he was announced the primary winner in Goyang in the western suburb of Seoul.
“The current Lee Myung-bak administration has turned the clock back for the past five years,” Moon said. He said that he would seek a third inter-Korean summit, while accenting a strong alliance with the United States.
The former human rights lawyer won 56.5 percent of the total number of votes cast during the 13-stop nationwide primary that started in Jeju Island on Aug. 25.
Although Moon won the DUP primary, the 59-year-old first-term lawmaker is expected to grapple with Ahn Cheol-soo, Seoul National University professor, for a unified pan-opposition presidential ticket.
Ahn is expected to announce his decision whether he will run for the president this week.
In a press conference held after the primary, Moon said he will strive to forge an “alliance with Ahn at all cost” but said it should be achieved with “the DUP at the center of the alliance.”
Analysts said it is highly likely that Ahn will declare his bid to join the presidential race.
He has kept his cards close to his chest, not speaking for certain about his intention but dropped enough hints that he was extremely interested.
Ahn recently visited the May 18 National Cemetery in Gwangju to pay his respects to citizens killed during the 1980 democratic movement which many consider foreshadows an announcement of his intention to become president.
His popularity appears to be on the wane after the ruling party selected its presidential candidate, while the main opposition was drawing attention for its primary.
Moon’s ratings soared in the wake of his winning streak in the nationwide primaries and the gap between him and Ahn in a hypothetical two-way race has narrowed.
He garnered 347,183 votes, or 56.5 percent, of the 614,257 votes cast and won all 13 regional primaries.
Moon served as presidential chief of staff to the late former President Roh. Before this, he served as a human rights lawyer in the southeastern port city of Busan after passing the state bar exam in 1980.
The newly-elected DUP candidate gained political clout by winning his first parliamentary seat in the Sasang district in Busan, a conservative stronghold, in the April general elections.
Meanwhile, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Jeong-ha congratulated Moon’s victory in a written statement while the rival Saenuri Party spokesman Lee Sang-il urged for a policy-oriented competition instead of negative campaigning with the presidential election less than 100 days away.
The liberal camp strives to form a Moon-Ahn alliance as they are aware that having a strong standard bearer of the opposition camp is needed to win the current frontrunner presidential candidate Rep. Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party.
Park Won-soon, a lawyer-turned-activist, beat his Saenuri rival with a wide margin in the Seoul mayoral by-election last October following Ahn’s official support for him. The independent candidate Park later joined the DUP.
However, some say Ahn and Moon should first focus on widening their support base and discuss launching a united force later to ratchet up the opposition’s political momentum.
Just before the official announcement, Moon, confident of an overall primary victory said, “We should go back to the spirit of political unification,” referring to the extreme partisan movement exposed during the primary.
“Honam has chosen me, the son of its rival region, Yeongnam,” Moon declared. “It’s a stamp of approval on my candidacy as the successor of 10 years of liberal rule.”
Homan is composed of the Jeolla Provinces while Yeongnam includes the Gyeongsang Provinces.
The two areas are regional rivals historically. The 10-year rule of late Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun were made possible through the respective support from their regions of origin.
On Sunday, the DUP announced that it will empower its newly-elected presidential candidate to make key decisions in the upcoming campaign on behalf of the decision-making Supreme Council.
Former DUP chief Sohn Hak-kyu came in a distant second with 136,202 votes or 22.2 percent.