The presidential race has begun in earnest as all five key political parties have now selected their candidates.
Former cochairman of the People’s Party Ahn Cheol-soo was chosen as his party’s presidential nominee on Tuesday, while former chief of the Democratic Party Kim Chong-in also declared his candidacy on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party (DP), who has been leading the opinion polls, hopes to boost his chance by absorbing the supporters of his former in-house competitors, South Chungcheong Governor Ahn Hee-jung and Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung.
As part of efforts, Moon on Tuesday promised fellow lawmakers from his party that he would create a unified election committee embracing all factions, including Ahn’s and Lee’s aides, while asking DP Chairwoman Choo Mi-ae to head his camp.
Moon made the move to strengthen his party and fight off competition from Ahn Cheol-soo, whose popularity is on the rise.
According to Tuesday’s Macromill Embrain poll commissioned by YTN and the Seoul Shinmun, the former medical doctor and CEO even led Moon by 47 percent to 40-point-eight percent in a hypothetical two-way race. The poll had a 95 percent confidence level with a margin of error of plus or minus three-point-one percentage points.
The rapid rise in Ahn’s popularity is raising the speculation that he may seek partnership with other major candidates to beat Moon. However, Ahn has made it clear that he is not looking for an artificial alliance and will try to draw more voters with his own efforts.
Hong Joon-pyo from Liberty Korea Party, formerly the Saenuri Party, is competing with Yoo Seong-min from the splinter Bareun Party for conservative votes.
Hong, the governor of South Gyeongsang Province, asserts he will be able to win the presidential election if Yoo and the Bareun Party agree to field him as a unified candidate from the conservative bloc.
Yoo, however, says he, not Hong, has to be the sole candidate from the conservative circle, expressing confidence that he will beat Moon and Ahn in a three-way competition. Yoo launched his election committee on Wednesday.
Sim Sang-jeung of the minor progressive Justice Party, who is seeking to rally support among the progressive voters, visited Mokpo Wednesday for campaign appearances and speeches.
Adding dynamics to the already crowded presidential field, former chief of the Democratic Party Kim Chong-in also declared his candidacy on Wednesday.
It is expected that the 76-year-old politician will seek an alliance to form a unified government with both the conservative and progressive blocs.