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(News Focus) Potential presidential hopefuls in full campaign mode

All News 17:40 January 25, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- Three potential presidential hopefuls are positioning themselves to win in the general elections in April as the victory is largely seen as a bellwether for the presidential vote next year.

The three are Kim Moo-sung, head of the ruling Saenuri Party, Moon Jae-in, leader of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, and Ahn Cheol-soo, who left the Minjoo Party last month to create a new political party.

A poll released on Monday showed 20.8 percent of people supported Moon in a potential presidential race, followed by Kim who received 18.1 percent of support. Ahn is trailing behind by receiving 14.6 percent of support in the poll.

Kim has pushed ahead with reforming the party since resuming the chairman post in 2013, such as proposing a nomination system that better reflects public opinion in selecting candidates.

He even struck a deal with Moon last year that calls for the selection of candidates by taking into account opinion polls through mobile phones.

The deal has brought strong opposition from his own party members, mostly those among a faction loyal to President Park Geun-hye.

Kim, who once led the pro-Park faction but now represents the non-mainstream faction, vowed that he will win 180 of the total 300 seats up for grabs in the general elections to scrap a parliamentary bill.

The bill grants lawmakers the right to challenge executive enactments, such as the government's enforcement ordinance, and allows more assembly power in reviewing and modifying government enactments.

Political analysts forecast that if Kim secures 180 seats, there is a high possibility that he will become the final presidential candidate of the ruling Saenuri Party.

Moon, meanwhile, is making efforts to reform his party after an internal feud led to the departure of some two dozen lawmakers, including Ahn.

Last week, Moon announced that he will resign from his post as soon as possible and step aside to integrate the opposition bloc.

He said he will give up all his rights during the nomination process and give full authority to the party's election campaign committee.

He even named Kim Chong-in, an architect behind President Park's "economic democracy" pledge, to head the committee.

Moon put in his best efforts to recruit figures in an apparent move to improve the party's image that candidates are mostly from civic groups or activist groups.

He brought in rookies, including a successful businessman and a renowned criminologist, apparently to tap into undecided voters.

Since then, the party has earned higher support in Honam, the southwestern region that is the political turf of the opposition party.

Moon said he will not run for the general elections but political analysts forecast that he may run for electorates usually favorable to the ruling party.

Ahn, who announced that he would create a new party by February, said Monday that he will create a new united coalition party with Rep. Chun Jung-bae.

By joining hands, they could earn the right to form a parliamentary negotiation body by securing 20 sitting lawmakers.

The move is likely to reorganize the political landscape of the opposition bloc as Ahn's new party could become the main opposition party depending on the result of the election

Ahn, however, still has to focus on winning in his electoral district of Nowon in northern Seoul.

Ahn, who has huge fame in the 20-40 age brackets, will be running against Lee Jun-seok, a 31-year-old entrepreneur from the Saenuri Party.

khj@yna.co.kr
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