Ruling party to wrap up presidential primary race
Presidential hopefuls of the ruling Saenuri Party prepared to make their last campaign speeches Saturday as the primary race draws to a close with front-runner and former party chief Park Geun-hye all but certain to clinch the nomination.
The contest has never been close, and few doubt Park will emerge victorious in Sunday's election. Park enjoys broad support from across the party and consolidated her standing after rebuilding the once-beleaguered party and leading it to a widely unexpected victory in April's parliamentary elections.
Voting will take place at 251 polling stations across the nation from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Not only party members, but also ordinary citizens are allowed to cast ballots. The results will be combined with a separate opinion poll of some 6,000 citizens to determine the victor.
The party plans to announce the winner at a national convention Monday.
On Saturday afternoon, Park and four other contenders were scheduled to make their last campaign speeches in Anyang, south of Seoul. Since the contest officially kicked off a month ago, the party held five rounds of TV debate, three rounds of policy debate and nine rounds of joint campaign speeches.
With Park way ahead of the others, the primary race has largely been about who will be the runner-up. The four others are Yim Tae-hee, former chief of staff to President Lee Myung-bak; Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo; former South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Tae-ho; and former Incheon Mayor Ahn Sang-soo.
Two other ranking politicians, Reps. Chung Mong-joon and Lee Jae-oh, who had been expected to run for nomination, boycotted the race after the party rejected their demand for revising primary rules so as to determine the winner entirely based on votes from ordinary citizens.
The main opposition Democratic United Party also has yet to pick its candidate for December's presidential election. Major candidates include Moon Jae-in, a former chief of staff to late President Roh Moo-hyun; Sohn Hak-kyu, a special advisor for the party and former South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Doo-gwan.
Also considered a potential opposition candidate for the December poll is Ahn Cheol-soo, a software enterpreneur-turned-professor, who is widely popular, especially among young Koreans, due largely to his clean and upright image. (Yonhap)