Ahn Cheol-soo Drops Mayoral Bid in Favor of Rival

      September 07, 2011 10:16

      Software tycoon Ahn Cheol-soo (right) and lawyer-turned-civic activist Park Won-soon hug on Tuesday after announcing Ahn's decision not to run for Seoul mayor and support Park instead.

      Software tycoon Ahn Cheol-soo on Tuesday announced he will not run for Seoul mayor but instead support lawyer-turned-civic activist Park Won-soon. But citing his position as dean of the Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology at the state-run Seoul National University, which makes him a civil servant prohibited from electioneering, Ahn said he will not participate in Park's election campaign.

      Ahn made the announcement at a joint press conference with Park.

      Park now plans to form a campaign office supported by various civic groups and prepare for the upcoming ballot for a unified opposition candidate. If the present momentum continues, there is a considerable chance that Park could be selected as the opposition candidate.

      But experts pointed out that Ahn scored over 50 percent in the opinion polls while Park only gained about 9 percent, which will not be enough to sway the election.

      In an opinion poll by the Kukmin Ilbo last week, Ahn scored 55.4 percent, followed by Grand National Party lawmaker Na Kyung-won with 24.5 percent and Park with 9.1 percent. Park Seung-ryol of pollsters World Research said, "If we conduct an opinion poll tomorrow, support ratings for all candidates will rise 10 percent, but many voters don't know who Park is and why Ahn supports him, so we'll see no more than about one-third of Ahn's supporters backing Park."

      Won Sung-hoon, a director at Korea Research, said, "Voters supporting Ahn and Park are very different so the immediate impact will be limited. But considering the path that Park has walked so far, he could end up winning the support of voters who are tired of the establishment, and he’ll also get the firm backing of civic groups."

      And Prof. Kang Won-taek of Seoul National University said, "At the core of the Ahn Cheol-soo phenomenon is a disdain for partisan politics and a desire to overcome the old divisions. But Park has no choice but to take part in the vote for a unified opposition candidate, and that in itself runs counter to the principle."

      Meanwhile, Park also met main Democratic Party advisor Han Myeong-sook on Tuesday and agreed to cooperate in fielding a unified opposition candidate for Seoul mayor. The meeting was arranged by Moon Jae-in, the head of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation. Han is to decide this week whether she will run for mayor.

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