Kim Han-gil wins 1st round leadership race
By Kim Se-jeong
Lawmaker-elect Kim Han-gil won the first round of the leadership race for the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) in a regional vote in Ulsan, Sunday.
Kim received 103 votes out of 195 party delegates who each had two votes, far outmaneuvering Rep. Chu Mi-ae who obtained 61. Kim’s win came as a surprise, as the underdog beat the favorite, lawmaker-elect Lee Hae-chan, who garnered 48 voters, trailing the third placed Rep. Woo Sang-ho with 52.
The win drew attention as it could signal a sweeping change in the party’s future leadership structure. The DUP is scheduled to hold a national convention on June 9 to elect its leaders in a final vote.
Lee, leading the followers of the late President Roh Moo-hyun and currently serving as a party advisor, has been regarded as the front runner in the leadership race.
Kim has criticized Lee and party floor leader Park Jie-won for seeking a power-sharing deal in response to the DUP setback in April’s National Assembly elections.
“Failing to recognize a crisis will only bring us an even more crushing defeat,” Kim said in a speech.
“We should not attach pro-Roh or anti-Roh labels to any party members. It is time to act in absolute unison to secure our victory in the presidential election.”
It is a brilliant comeback for Kim who won in the 19th parliamentary elections after leaving politics four years ago.
“The victory in Ulsan is only the harbinger of bigger change,” Kim said after the election. “I’ll take the lead in ushering a liberal leader back into Cheong Wa Dae, following Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun,”
Ulsan is a stronghold for the faction of the late President Roh.
In defiance, Lee said he would not be deterred by the election result, vowing victory in the Busan poll taking place today.
The opposition party is planning to hold nine more regional votes in major cities and provinces around the country before the national convention in which it will elect the party’s new leadership.