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Park Geun-hye elected South Korea ruling party presidential primary

Publication Date : 20-08-2012


Former South Korea ruling Saenuri Party leader Park Geun-hye was elected the ruling party's presidential candidate after garnering a landslide victory in its national convention near Seoul today.

The victory of Park, the eldest daughter of former president Park Chung-hee, marks the first time a major political party in South Korea has picked a woman to run for president. She also became the first offspring of a former president to become a presidential candidate.

In the election that combines votes by party members and citizens and opinion polls, the 60-year-old Park secured 86.3 per cent of votes, trailed by Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo with 6.8 per cent, former South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Tae-ho with 3.2 per cent, Yim Tae-hee, former chief of staff to President Lee Myung-bak, with 2.8 per cent and former Incheon Mayor Ahn Sang-soo with 0.9 per cent.

The contest has never been close, and few had doubted Park would emerge victorious, as she enjoys broad support from across the party and consolidated her standing after rebuilding the once-beleaguered party and leading it to a widely unexpected victory in April's parliamentary elections.

Park set the ruling party's record in voting rate, as her margin of victory exceeded the 68 per cent of all votes won by former prime minister Lee Hoi-chang, who secured the Grand National Party's (GNP) presidential ticket in the 2002 primary. The GNP formed in 1997 is the predecessor party to Saenuri that was re-formed early this year.

The main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) has yet to pick its candidate for December's presidential election. Major candidates include Moon Jae-in, a former chief of staff to late President Roh Moo-hyun; Sohn Hak-kyu, a special advisor for the party and former South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Doo-gwan.

With the launch of the DUP's presidential primary just six days away, Moon is leading other candidates in various opinion polls by showing an approval rating of around 30 per cent, compared with the 10 per cent range for the other candidates.

Also considered a potential opposition candidate for the December poll is Ahn Cheol-soo, a software entrepreneur-turned-professor, who is widely popular, especially among young Koreans, due largely to his clean and upright image.


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