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Sohn’s gamble proves DP doubters wrong

April 28, 2011 - 18:57 By 배현정
Ex-governor shakes off public doubts, paves way to presidential pace

The political status of opposition leader Sohn Hak-kyu skyrocketed as he brought a landslide victory to his party by winning in the Bundang-B constituency in Wednesday’s by-elections.

He gained ground in his bid for next year’s presidential election, rising as the most powerful runner in the opposition camp.
Sohn Hak-kyu (second from left), leader of main opposition Democratic Party and lawmaker-elect, grins at the party’s general meeting on Thursday morning after his victory in the previous day’s Bundang-B by-election. (Yonhap News)

“I would like to attribute my victory to the consolidated opposition camp and to the people,” said Sohn, who attended the party’s supreme council meeting Thursday morning.

He pledged to continue his efforts to unite possible candidates of the opposition parties in preparation for the upcoming presidential election next year.

“I have once again realized the importance of consolidation within the opposition camp,” Sohn said.

“We, together with other opposition parties, are to listen to the people’s voices and to rise up to their expectations.”

His prestige was boosted further as Lee Bong-soo of the minority People’s Participation Party lost in the Gimhae-B constituency, despite being tipped as the sole opposition runner through a public survey in the area. Rhyu Si-min, leader of the PPP and another powerful opposition man, is thus likely to take a step back in the upcoming races, giving way to Sohn.

The party leader also succeeded in calming doubts that have been held about him within the DP since he joined the party after defecting from the ruling Grand National Party.

Though he was elected as opposition party leader last October, Sohn faced criticism that he had betrayed his former political base, and lost several in-party contests to Chung Dong-young and other rivals.

However, in this year’s by-elections, the party leader upgraded his image by entering candidacy in Bundang, which was largely thought to be a personal sacrifice for the sake of the party because the district was a ruling party stronghold.

During his campaign in Bundang, Sohn emphasized his personal merits and career as former Gyeonggi governor, instead of flaunting his post as opposition party leader.

This was a clear contrast to his GNP rival Kang Jae-sup, who campaigned on Bundang party lines.

The DP under the lead of the now lawmaker-elect Sohn vowed to meet the people’s demands and to act as a positive alternative to the present Lee Myung-bak administration and the GNP majority of the National Assembly.

“In these by-elections, we have seen the people’s hope for change,” said a DP spokesperson.

“We will not settle for these small victories but humbly strive to work as a tool to realize the people’s dreams.”

By Bae Hyun-jung (