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Sohn proposes unified candidate

Aug. 21, 2011 - 19:25 By
DP leader presses party to revamp candidate nomination system

Main opposition Democratic Party leader Sohn Hak-kyu on Sunday formally proposed that the entire opposition field a single candidate in next year’s presidential election, entering a tight match within the progressive bloc.

“By uniting, we will win the parliamentary and presidential elections next year,” Sohn said in a speech at a rally of progressives in Seoul Plaza on Saturday night.

“I will honor the long-cherished dreams of former Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.”
DP leader Sohn Hak-kyu (left) greets Rhyu Si-min, chairman of the People’s Participation Party, at the progressives’ rally Saturday in Seoul Plaza against Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co. layoffs. (Yonhap News)

Sohn’s aides said the speech came in reply to claims from minor opposition parties, including the Democratic Labor Party and the New Progressive Party, that Sohn had yet to officially make the proposal.

Internally, Sohn began pressing the DP to brace for the elections next year by preparing to revamp the DP’s candidate nomination system.

He also said the DP will seek to outline next year’s general election pledges by the end of this year’s regular National Assembly.

As though to shrug off criticism that he lacked decisiveness, Sohn began to tune himself into a more resolute tone, scolding DP lawmakers for not working hard enough Friday to push for the bill on media representatives.

Approval ratings for Sohn as a presidential hopeful, which had once risen to 15 percent after he won the by-election in Bundang in April, have remained at a standstill around the 9 percent range for months.

Sohn’s biggest rival in the progressive bloc so far is Moon Jae-in, lawyer and former key aide to the late ex-President Roh Moo-hyun.

Moon, who now runs a foundation named after Roh, rose to political stardom after he played a crucial role in talking opposition parties into fielding a single Gimhae candidate in the April 27 by-elections.

His fame shot up with the publication of his memoir titled “Moon Jae-in’s Destiny” in June.

He signed up late last month for a round-table led by civic leaders to unite the opposition.

“I believe that a pan-opposition coalition is the surest, most effective way to win in 2012,” Moon said at the round-table conference then.

After years of refusing to enter politics, Moon said last month he was “contemplating on the extent of his contributions for the transfer of power.”

On Aug. 14, Moon suggested an alliance of parties acknowledge the independence of each political clique.

Moon’s political potential is expected to be gauged by the results of his efforts to form an alliance of opposition groups despite their acute differences.

By Kim So-hyun (