As the 2024 general election looms, new third parties are emerging in Seoul as potential challengers to the established parties.
The nascent third parties say they are launching their bids to challenge the country’s two major political parties -- the ruling People Power Party and the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea -- and to woo a considerable niche of voters who identify as independents.
According to polls, support for the two main parties is hardly 50 to 50, with around a quarter who consistently claim they are independent of either.
The Nov. 10 poll by Gallup Korea shows 25 percent saying they don’t identify with a party while the rest of the pie is split almost evenly among the two parties, with 37 percent saying they support the People Power Party and 34 percent the Democratic Party.
Lee Jun-seok, the disgraced former leader of the People Power Party, and Cho Kuk, who was justice minister under former President Moon Jae-in, are among the more high-profile challengers anticipated to play a role in shaping the results of the election.
Lee, who was ousted as party’s chair following allegations related to a sexual bribery scandal, has a slim chance of returning to the party he once headed. In recent public appearances, he said he was determined not going to let the general election be a two-way race,
In a poll taken Nov. 13-14, some 16 percent of 1,001 South Koreans of voting age responded they would support the ex-People Power Party chair’s party, if it were to take off, while 13 percent said they would give the party by Moon’s former justice minister a chance.
Some sitting lawmakers with the two main parties have announced their intentions to join a third party, calling for a change in the established political scene.
Democratic Party Rep. Lee Sang-min said in a radio interview Tuesday his party has become a “party for superfans” of the party’s chief Rep. Lee Jae-myung, and that “real change could not come from within with the state of things.”
Other lawmakers who are excluded from the party’s “pro-Lee Jae-myung faction” have similarly suggested they were willing to desert the party, after the Democratic Party leader made himself the chief of the candidate recruitment committee last week.