South Korean presidential candidate favors conservatives, may head tight race

FILE PHOTO: Yoon Suk-yeol, presidential candidate of South Korea's main opposition People's Power Party (PPP), attends a news conference, in Seoul
FILE PHOTO: Yoon Suk-yeol, presidential candidate of South Korea’s main opposition People’s Power Party (PPP), speaks during a news conference at the party’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea April 24 January 2022. Ahn Young-joon / Pool via REUTERS // File photo

March 3, 2022

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – A South Korean presidential candidate dropped out on Thursday in favor of conservatives Yoon Suk-yeol in a surprise move that could tilt the balance of elections next week. leaning towards the conservative side.

Yoon, the flag bearer of the People’s Power Party, the main opposition to the ruling liberal party, was joined by Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party, who ran a distant third.

“We have no doubt that today’s announcement will bring about a perfect change of government,” Ahn said at a press conference with Yoon, announcing the merger. “We are a team.”

The shakeup less than a week before Wednesday’s election is bad news for Lee Jae-myung, the representative of President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party. Moon banned by term limits seeks re-election.

A Realmeter survey released on Wednesday, the last day to release polls by electoral rules, showed Yoon leading Lee 46.3% to 43.1%.

Given the narrow gap between Yoon and Lee, the change by Ahn, who has support around 7%, could mean a decisive conservative victory, although it’s unclear how many people support Ahn. will vote for the combined ticket.

Voters want a president who can clean up politics of polarization and corruption and tackle soaring housing prices and deeper inequality that have plagued Europe’s fourth-largest economy Asia, polls show.

A former prosecutor general, Yoon has promised to crack down on corruption, promote justice and create a more level playing field, while seeking to “reset” China and take a tougher stance against China. North Korea.

He thanked Ahn, pledging to win the election and realize their shared vision of national integration through a common government.

Lee vowed to emphasize his campaign, telling reporters, “I believe in history and people. I will firmly walk the path of promoting people’s livelihood, peace and unity. ”

Yoon wants to buy another US missile system, a move his top foreign policy adviser said would risk economic retaliation from China but present an opportunity to improve relations. difficult diplomacy.

Ahn, a doctor and software magnate who fell to the incumbent Moon in 2017, had initially backed double digits on his promise to make South Korea a powerhouse in technology and economy as well as volunteering. at COVID-19 clinics with his wife. But his popularity has waned even as voters grow weary of the corruption scandals, slurs and smears of the two main candidates.

Ahn first offered his endorsement to Yoon in mid-February, saying the merger would bring “overwhelming victory” and national unity, but previous negotiations had found a way to combine. campaigns.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by William Mallard) South Korean presidential candidate favors conservatives, may head tight race

Bobby Allyn

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