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D-50: Lee-Yoon's two-way facing new variable; conservative merger to rise as potential gamechanger
Updated: 2022-01-18 12:31:30 KST

The March 9th Presidential Election has become even more difficult to predict.

50 days ago… polls showed a neck-and-neck race between the ruling Democratic Party's Lee Jae-myung and the main opposition's Yoon Suk-yeol.
Fast forward, the race between the two main contenders is still as tight as ever.
But there's a new variable
the rise of the minor opposition People's Party's Ahn Cheol-soo.
His ratings rose dramatically… mainly while Yoon saw a decline.

This changing landscape is bringing attention to a potential "merger" between Yoon and Ahn as a single conservative candidate.
Such mergers are an election strategy to increase the chances of winning… when there is no candidate with more than 50 percent support.
It can occur in South Korea because there is no runoff race.

A strategic alliance often plays a key part in an election victory like for former presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.
Back in 1997, Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-pil reached the so-called 'DJP' coalition agreement.
Under which, Kim Dae-jung took the presidential candidacy while guaranteeing Kim Jong-pil the role of first Prime Minister.
Observers say the two candidates with regional and political differences helped Kim expand his supporter base.
The 2002 election saw a merge between former president Roh Moo-hyun and Hyundai Group's Chung Mong-Joon.
Although Chung retracted his support soon after the merger deal gave Roh the momentum to seal the final win.

But not all merger attempts succeed.
Like in 1987 when Kim Yong-sam and Kim Dae-jung failed to reach an agreement,… paving the way for Roh Tae-woo's victory.

Ahn Cheol-soo, who's at the center of this year's potential merger is not new to strategic alliances.
10 years ago, he gave up his presidential candidacy in support for Moon Jae-in.
In 2011, he resigned from Seoul mayoral by-election to support Park Won-sun.
And last year, in another mayoral by-election, he reached an agreement with Oh Se-hoon to hold a public opinion poll to decide which of them would run.
Ahn lost that poll.

As for this election, Ahn has so far been keeping a firm stance that he will end the race himself.
The People Power Party's chairman also ruled out the possibility of an alliance emphasizing self-sufficiency.

While no official discussion has begun between the two parties, there is much attention on whether this could materialize.
And once again be a major gamechanger in this year's election.
Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News.
Reporter : kelee@arirang.com