Candidates following Ahn Cheol-soo, co-leader of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy Party, have lost in the partys nomination of candidates for metropolitan and provincial posts. It was predictable when Ahn`s party merged with the United Democratic Party. The so-called Ahns people Kim Sang-gon of Gyeonggi Province, a former superintendent of education, Lee Seok-hyeong of South Jeolla Province, a former governor of Hampyeong county, Kang Bong-gyun of North Jella Province, a former minister, and Song Yong-ho of Daejeon, a former president of Chungnam National University lost to former Democratic Party members. The NPAD chose Yoon Jang-hyeon, Ahns person, strategically, for the candidate or Gwangju mayor, over incumbent Gwangju Mayor Kang Woon-tae and Rep. Lee Yong-seop, who were leading in approval ratings. Against this backdrop, Kang and Lee have left the party and agreed to run independently with either side giving up. Both Kang and Lee are leading in opinion polls and if either of them agrees to give up, the race will be tough for Yoon.
Ahn had hoped strategic nomination in 10 regions in the country including Jung and Dongjak districts in Seoul in picking candidates for local government and council seats. However, this did not happen due to the backlash from former Democratic Party members who claimed, The candidates are not competitive. As the party had conflicts over picking candidates for local council seats, Lee Yoon-seok, the partys chief spokesperson, said, The two co-leaders should leave the party. A day later, the spokesperson resigned from his post.
Analysts say that Ahns people have completely lost to former Democratic Party members who are hostile to new people and busy looking out for their own interests. A strategic nomination is not uncommon as it was often used to select a new and competent person with a weak regional foothold or weak public recognition. Candidate nomination process should be transparent and consistent in the aspects of procedure, principle, and criteria. As Ahn tried to choose candidates with no strong chance of success, he was criticized for following the status quo ante, which cannot be found either new politics or old politics.
When the two co-leaders agreed to merge their parties, people suspected that Kim Han-gil, a former Democratic Party leader, did a backroom dealing to make the merger happen before the June 4 local elections. Many thought that the leaders promised to keep the 50-50 percent rule in both the composition of the leadership and candidate selection for elections. Ahn had claimed that no candidate nomination would lead to new politics and tried to push for a strategic nomination, arguing that success depends on the reform of the nomination. Some in the party said that Ahns candidates were not new people who are competent and have strong willingness but people who are unidentifiable. If Ahn did not keep the promise of non-nomination and failed to reform the nomination, why did he try to seek a merger and even do politics in the first place?
Park Young-sun, the NPADs floor leader, said Wednesday on the conflicts over the partys nomination, Ahn did not seem to know about the reality. Ahn overreached to gain a foothold in provinces with a presidential race in mind, only to reveal the limits of his leadership. If the NPAD fights over its interests at a time when the country is in deep sorrow in the wake of the tragic ferry disaster, it will disappoint the people all the more.