DUP split on Ahn Cheol-soo
By Kim Jung-yoon
A key member of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) clashed over Ahn Cheol-soo, the potential dark horse for the December presidential race as the party’s primary nears.
While Rep. Park Jie-won, the DUP’s newly elected floor leader recently expressed hope for Ahn, a software mogul-turned professor to vie in the party’s primary, an opposition presidential aspirant bluntly criticized the DUP for being blinded in the chase for Ahn’s approval ratings.
South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Doo-gwan, a leftleaning presidential contender denounced the DUP for its all-out efforts to attract Ahn to the party.
Kim said the DUP only focuses on setting Ahn as a single candidate for the opposition camp, instead of encouraging in-party competition for contenders to go up against the ruling Saenuri Party.
He went on to say that it is a mistake to judge Ahn based on the current approval ratings, since he does not have any political experience or background.
The remark came after Rep. Park said it would be good if Ahn joins the DUP to participate in its presidential primary.
Park has said there is no need to force Ahn, if he refuses to become the party’s standard bearer, though the DUP doors will be open, during the inauguration speech after winning the floor leader election.
As Ahn’s father has recently spoken of his son potentially running in the presidential election, it is most likely that he will run on an independent ticket, refusing to join any political parties such as the DUP.
Yet, considering Rep. Park’s remarks that he would not necessarily force Ahn to join hands with the DUP, observers say, Ahn will run as a single candidate for the opposition camp as Park Won-soon did in the mayoral by-election.
All eyes of the opposition are kept glued to Ahn’s moves as he is the most potential contender in the opposition camp to challenge Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party, the likeliest 2012 presidential candidate.
Ahn enjoys skyrocketing popularity among voters between their 20s and 40s as well as in the most populous and surrounding areas of Seoul. He has proved his political power by playing a kingmaking role in supporting leftleaning activist Park Won-soon in the mayoral election.
Since then, Ahn has been seen as the candidate with the best chance of challenging Park on behalf of the liberal camp.
However, divided views on Ahn suggest that the political guessing game over the fate of the opposition will continue.
Governor Kim, potential presidential contender also dubbed “little Roh Moo-hyun” may win support from his home town in the traditionally conservative dominant area of Gyeongsang Province.