South Korean conservatives set to pick presidential candidate, East Asia News & Top Stories
SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) – South Korea’s main conservative opposition party picks its candidate Friday, November 5 for a presidential election in March, with its two leaders vowing to take a hard stance on North Korea and put the brakes on soaring real estate prices.
The People Power Party (PPP) is expected to announce the results around 2:45 p.m. (1:45 p.m. Singapore time) of its nomination process which included four days of primary voting.
The ballots were divided between the public and party members and weighted so that both groups had an equal say in the selection of the bloc’s candidate to challenge Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party, who won. his appointment last month.
The country is heading towards one of its most open presidential races since it gained full democracy in the late 1980s.
The main concerns of voters are the high prices of urban housing and an inequality gap exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and highlighted in the television series “Squid Game”.
The two main contenders for the PPP race are Mr. Hong Joon-pyo, a defender of a nuclear-weapon South Korea who lost in a 2017 presidential bid, and former Attorney General Yoon Seok-youl, who rose to prominence nationally for investigating corruption in the government of current President Moon Jae-in.
Mr. Hong pledged to quash a landmark military deal in 2018 with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if elected, potentially putting one of Mr. Moon’s greatest accomplishments on the ballot.
He also warned of a potential housing market collapse and surge in bankruptcies as interest rates rise, adding that the current level of budget spending is unsustainable.
Mr. Yoon positioned himself as more moderate than Mr. Hong. While he said he would increase the pressure on Pyongyang, Mr. Yoon also recruited Mr. Lee Do-hoon, Mr. Moon’s former special representative for peace and security affairs on the Korean Peninsula – signaling that he is open to diplomacy with Mr. Kim’s regime.
But Mr. Yoon, a newcomer to national politics, suffered gaffes during the election campaign, including comments that appeared to defend former President Chun Doo-hwan, an army strongman responsible for crushing a pro-democracy uprising in 1980 in Gwangju with deadly force. .
Mr. Yoon apologized after saying last month that Chun “had done well in politics.”
In a Korea Society Opinion Institute poll released on Monday, Mr. Hong edged Yoon by a 38.6% to 34% margin. A potential two-way battle between Mr. Yoon and Mr. Lee was a virtual stalemate, the KSOI poll said, while Mr. Lee had a one-percentage point lead in a potential match with Mr. Hong.
South Korean presidents have a single five-year term. The PPP is trying to bring a conservative back to power after the group was sent to political wasteland about five years ago following corruption scandals for its last two presidents, one of whom, Park Geun-Hye, has was removed from his post after being dismissed in 2016.
Mr. Lee, the governor of South Korea’s most populous province, campaigned on a platform of universal basic income, sweeping reforms and expanding the social safety net. He targeted PPP contenders this week by officially launching his campaign.
“We cannot entrust the fate of this country to a candidate who lacks philosophy, historical knowledge and preparation,” Lee said Tuesday. “We cannot leave the country in the hands of a regressive political bloc that denigrates Gwangju, insists on nuclear weapons and promotes inter-Korean tensions.”