Facing an intense in-party primary, presidential candidates of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea on Monday stepped up efforts to win over support ahead of the main race.
As of 5 p.m. on Monday, the number of the party’s in-house voters reached 1.2 million, in 12 days since the registration process opened on Feb. 15.
Lawmakers expect the trend to continue so to beat the last presidential primary’s record of 1.08 million in 2012.
The party’s election board said it would host 10 candidate debates, with two of them scheduled to be sent via radio and the internet before March 13, which is the effective deadline for the Constitutional Court to decide on President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment.
The court is currently reviewing whether to remove Park from office over allegations that she allowed her confidante Choi Soon-sil to meddle in state affairs and colluded with her in extorting funds from conglomerates.
Former leader of Democratic Party Moon Jae-in (from left), South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung and Seonganam Mayor Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)
However the party’s three candidates -- former party leader Moon Jae-in, South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung and Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung – remain at odds over the schedule of the debates, as they each seek more exposure to the public to secure more voters.
As Moon is leading the pack of presidential hopefuls in opinion polls, Lee and An demanded more televised debates to take place before the court’s decision.
The board declined, saying that it would be inappropriate as President Park’s impeachment trial is still ongoing and it may incur the wrong idea among citizens that the party is only focused on winning the presidential election.
“The election board is always making unilateral decisions and ignores our calls,” Lee said. “I do not understand why having a debate via radio and the internet is OK but not on television.”
An’s camp also said they would request the board to change the scheduled debates to be broadcast on television.
Along with their election campaign moves, the candidates revealed their camp names and logos.
On Feb. 9, Lee was the first to establish his camp, called the “Peoples’ Service Center,” reflecting pledges to represent laborers.
Meanwhile, Moon Jae-in revealed his new election camp name, “The Moon Camp,” and logos Monday. An followed suit and released the camp name, “An Hee-jung Camp,” on the same day.
According to a weekly poll released by Realmeter on Monday, Moon continued to top in the list of presidential hopefuls with a 33.5 percent support rating as its runner-up candidate An edged down by 1.5 percentage points to stand at 18.9 percent. Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn followed in third, with 10.9 percent, while presidential aspirant Lee Jae-myung posted at 10.1 percent.
The poll was conducted to 2,516 citizens from Monday to Friday last week.
By Jo He-rim (email@example.com