Can she make it?
By Lee Tae-hoon
Rep. Park Geun-hye, 60, daughter of the late President Park Chung-hee, won the ruling Sanuri Party's nomination to compete in the Dec. 19 presidential election Monday.
As predicted, the five-term lawmaker scored a landslide victory in the party primary by garnering 84 percent of support. The result was based on the results of an opinion poll and votes cast Sunday by its party members and ordinary citizens across the country.
Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo came second with 8.7 percent, followed by Rep. Kim Tae-ho with 3.2 percent.
Yim Tae-hee, former chief of staff to President Lee Myung-bak, managed to collect 2.6 percent of the vote, while former Incheon Mayor Ahn Sang-soo placed last with 1.6 percent.
Park’s win marks the first time for a political party to give a woman the ticket to run for president.
In her acceptance speech, the presidential contender said she will launch an independent investigation body aimed at preventing corruption involving politicians and ranking officials.
“I will be stricter on myself and people close to me,” she said.
“I will introduce a special inspection system to prevent corruption committed by those in power and their relatives.”
Park said that she would also consider launching a permanent investigation body at the prosecution that exclusively deals with politicians and their corrupt activities.
She also pledged to seek balanced national growth and tackle the growing polarization between the haves and have-nots as part of her efforts to realize “economic democratization.”
“Conglomerates should grow along with small- and medium-sized companies,” she said.
“I will create a society where there is no discrimination between regular workers and non-regular workers, and those who are economically vulnerable will also get a fair chance,”
Observers say her victory over the four rivals from the ruling conservative party clears one hurdle on her path to the upcoming presidential election.
They point out that she will faces greater challenges ahead as she tries to widen her appeal among a public divided about the 18-year authoritarian rule of her late father Park Chung-hee.
Park Geun-hye has drawn criticism from liberal parties and civic groups for her inconsistent remarks and positive assessment of her father’s military coup in 1961.
The main opposition Democratic United Party said that it would launch a task force to evaluate whether the Saenuri Party’s presidential candidate is fit to govern the country.
The DUP claims Park has inherited her father’s dictatorial traits and should take responsibility for the chaos created by the Lee administration.
She served as the acting first lady for five years until her father was gunned down by his intelligence chief in 1979.
Her re-entry into political life came much later, in 1998, when she won a legislative seat in her hometown of Daegu as a member of the Grand National Party, which she renamed the Saenuri Party early this year.
She previously ran for president in 2007 against incumbent President Lee and lost in the party primary.