Parties must respond to call for political reform
At long last, software mogul-turned-professor Ahn Cheol-soo declared his bid for the presidency Wednesday, pledging a strong determination to pursue political reform.
During a press conference in Seoul, he said, “I have met many people over the past months and they have expressed desire for political reform. Old politics should be overhauled. I’ll run for president.’’
Specifically, he called for national integration and urged other presidential hopefuls to refrain from false propaganda and mudslinging in order to put an end to an era of division and hatred.
Ahn’s jump into the presidential race turned the Dec. 19 election into a three-way battle, at least for the time being, with Rep. Park Geun-hye representing the ruling camp while Ahn and Moon Jae-in, the nominee of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), vying to win the ticket for the opposition camp.
Ahn’s joining of the presidential race is a completely new experiment, given that he has no real political track record. Also, there is no denying the possibility of a president without party affiliation being elected because many analysts expect him to steer state affairs independently without joining a political party even if he is elected president.
Upon announcing his bid for the nation’s top elected position, Ahn, who enjoys wide popularity among young voters disillusioned with the existing political parties, should prove that he is up to the presidency by showing what the details of his political reform and new politics will be.
He also has to overcome an image of being a weak communicator given to him over the past few months and pass verification of his personal matters.
Still, it’s unclear whether both Moon and Ahn will go to the polls as separate candidates, because such a move will entail a defeat for the opposition camp. So the foremost task facing the 50-year-old Ahn is to become the single opposition candidate by surviving the contest against Moon, the former chief of staff to the late President Roh Moo-hyun.
Speculation has it that the two candidates will campaign separately to gauge public sentiment and that negotiations will be held to select a single opposition candidate right before Nov. 25-26, when all candidates must formally register to run in the presidential poll.
It remains to be seen how the opposition camp will select its single nominee but the DUP reportedly hopes that Ahn will yield the candidacy to its nominee, claiming that change of government must be realized, come rain or shine. This may be the first hardship he has to tackle, given widespread observation that Ahn will drop out of the race midway after playing the role of a pacemaker.
In fact, a Realmeter survey conducted Monday and Tuesday showed that Moon topped his Saenuri Party rival for the first time. Moon also trumped Ahn in a hypothetical two-way race by a margin of 12.6 percentage points.
As Ahn said, the forthcoming presidential election hopefully should be conducted without a negative campaign for the first time.