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D-50: Conservative merger rises as potential gamechanger Updated: 2022-01-18 17:13:04 KST

There are exactly 50 days left until South Koreans head to the polls to elect their new president.
But still, polls show no candidate with a clear lead and attention is on what could be a potential gamechanger.
For more on this, we have our National Assembly correspondent Lee Kyung-eun in the studio.
Welcome, Kyung-eun.

Hi, Jung-min.

How are the latest polls looking?

Well, they are not really predicting a winner at this point.
BY THIS TIME polls USUALLY show where the election is headed.
But that's not the case for THIS election.
THAT'S because. the LANDSCAPE continues to change.
50 days ago it was mainly a TWO-WAY race between the ruling Democratic Party's Lee Jae-myung and the main opposition's Yoon Suk-yeol.
Fast forward, LEE and YOON are still the two main contenders now.
But there's now a new variable.
The rise of the minor opposition People's Party's Ahn Cheol-soo which could potentially turn the election into a three-way race.
The situation is getting more complicated. as the competition between Lee and Yoon intensifies with neither of them showing a clear lead.
THIS poll shows Yoon slightly ahead of Lee.
But some other polls conducted around the same time - show Lee. in the lead. instead.
The difference in "how" surveys are conducted. could bring different results.
But what could STILL confuse the public is a case like this.
When two polls conducted by the same agency, in the same time period, and using the same method show contradicting results.
In this case, that could be due to different questions commissioned by different clients.
But the key TAKEAWAYS are the same Lee and Yoon are running a tight race with Ahn chasing behind.

Now, in this close race, will there be any potential gamechangers?

Well, there could be a lot of factors.
For example,. some 20 percent of voters who are still UNDECIDED.
And some 30 percent of voters who are POLITICALLY-NEUTRAL.and could change their minds at any time.
With just 50 days left those numbers have reduced. but still they are not forming any clear tendency towards a particular candidate.
That's why there's growing attention on a potential "merger" between Yoon and Ahn as a single conservative candidate who can possibly beat the ruling DP's Lee Jae-myung.
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.
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.
Meanwhile. 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.

What about this time, is there looking like a chance?

Well, 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 the 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.
As for this election, Ahn has so far been keeping a firm stance that he will end the race himself.
But at the same time, he says SHOULD there be a merger, HE should be the candidate PUT FORWARD.
The People Power Party also rules out the possibility or the need. for a potential alliance.
The party's chairman emphasizes that the party's candidate is self-sufficient.

While no official discussion has begun between the two parties.
There is still much attention whether this could materialize.
And once again be a gamechanger in this year's election.

Thank you for that report.

Thank you for having me.
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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