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Ruling party to decide presidential candidate at 6 p.m.

Oct. 10, 2021 - 16:21 By Shin Ji-hye
(From left) Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung, former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, Rep. Park Yong-jin and former Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae (Yonhap)

South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party will confirm its presidential candidate Sunday, with Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung maintaining the top spot in the cumulative votes.

Starting at 3:30 p.m. on the day, the ruling party holds its last regional primary in Seoul and the third Super Week -- national electoral vote -- to choose a final candidate at SK Olympic Handball Gymnasium in Songpa-gu, Seoul.

At 6 p.m., the results of about 140,000 votes from party members in the Seoul primary election and around 300,000 votes from the third national electoral vote will be released.

As of Saturday, Lee had acquired 602,357 votes, giving him a 55.29 percent share of the vote in previous primaries. Former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon came in second with 33.99 percent (373,324 votes).

Lee Jae-myung could be announced as the ruling party nominee Sunday. The Gyeonggi governor is unlikely to be overtaken -- the difference between the two candidates is about 230,000 votes -- so Lee Nak-yon’s main hope is to force a runoff. They will enter a final head-to head vote if neither candidate secures an overall majority in the total vote count.

The third place was former Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae with 9.11 percent (99,246 votes) and the fourth place was Rep. Park Yong-jin with 1.61 percent (17,570 votes).

Gov. Lee’s final vote tally is also of interest. President Moon Jae-in gained 56.5 percent of the vote in the 2012 primary election in the ruling party and topped 57 percent in the 2017 presidential election.

If Lee exceeds 57 percent vote in the primary, it is expected to lead to greater party unity in the final election, breaking the view that he is “non-mainstream” in the party.