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Democratic Party candidates’ support totals more than 60%

Feb. 20, 2017 - 18:09 By Jo He-rim
Three presidential candidates from the main liberal party have more than 60 percent of voter support between them, a recent poll showed Monday, indicating a tough fight for the ruling conservatives in the upcoming election.

According to a weekly poll released by Realmeter, the opposition Democratic Party of Korea, South Korea’s largest parliamentary party, is enjoying record-high popularity of 47.7 percent, with the combined poll figures of its three presidential hopefuls even higher at over 60 percent. 
South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung (L) and Moon Jae-in, former leader of Democratic Party (R) (Yonhap)

The party’s former leader Moon Jae-in topped the list with 32.5 percent, followed by South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung at 20.4 percent and Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung at 8.1 percent.

The ruling conservative Liberty Korea Party, formerly the Saenuri Party, on the other hand, is short on strong candidates. While the party’s support stands at 15.1 percent, its strongest potential candidate, acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, fell slightly to 14.8 percent, ranking third among all presidential.

The liberal People’s Party recorded 11.5 percent support and the conservative Bareun Party garnered 5.6 percent.

The Democratic Party’s primary race is heating up with the trio trying to secure supporters from outside the party to register for the in-house vote, which is open to anyone who signs up in advance.

As of Monday afternoon, more than 50,000 citizens aged 19 or older had joined the party’s electoral rolls since last Wednesday, when the registration process opened. The party’s election board raised the estimated size of its electoral pool from 2 million to 2.5 million.

The three main contenders vary in reputation and political stances, widening the range of targeted voters. While Moon garnered a strong base of support from his previous bid for the presidency against incumbent President Park Geun-hye in 2012, An positions himself as a centrist in the liberal camp. Lee, who puts providing basic income and labor rights as his key campaign pledges, stands more to the left of the other two.

Park’s loyalist ruling Liberty Korea Party and its splinter Bareun Party have yet to start their primary races, with their potential candidates posting below 5 percent at the polls. Acting President Hwang has made no hint so far as to whether he plans to run.

President Park was impeached by the National Assembly on Dec. 9 over allegations she had allowed her confidante Choi Soon-sil to meddle in state affairs and colluded with her to extort funds from conglomerates. The Constitutional Court is currently reviewing her ouster and is largely expected to rule in early March.

If the court decides to remove Park from office, the nation would move to elect a new leader within 60 days.

By Jo He-rim (