DP postpones presidential primary by 5 weeks amid COVID-19 resurgence

박보람 / 2021-07-19 18:31:53
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ruling party-presidential primary
▲ This image shows the six candidates during a party event in Seoul on July 11, 2021, who are competing to win the Democratic Party's ticket to run in the March 9 presidential election. (Yonhap)

ruling party-presidential primary

DP postpones presidential primary by 5 weeks amid COVID-19 resurgence

SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- The ruling Democratic Party (DP) decided Monday to put off its presidential primary by five weeks in light of the recent upsurge in COVID-19 infections.

The decision was sealed earlier in the day during a closed-door meeting of the DP's supreme council.

"(The DP) decided to postpone the first half of its nationwide campaign tour (for presidential contenders), originally slated to kick off on Aug. 7, by four weeks and the second half by five weeks," Rep. Lee Sang-min, the chair of the DP's election committee, told reporters following the meeting.

"The recent elevation of the country's social distancing regime following mass COVID-19 outbreaks as well as the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and the traditional Chuseok holiday season were taken into account," he said of the background of the decision.

Under the rearranged schedule, the DP will pick its sole standard bearer for the March 9 presidential election by no later than mid-October, not Sept. 10 as previously announced.

The decision follows the party's monthslong internal division on the issue.

A group of DP lawmakers, notably those known as supporters of high-profile DP presidential hopefuls Lee Nak-yon and Chung Sye-kyun, demanded the election of the presidential candidate be put off to November.

They argued early primaries could fail to garner sufficient public attention due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also claimed the election of the rival presidential candidate by the main opposition People Power Party, slated for November, could steal the show if the DP's candidate is picked too early.

But, the camp of the party's front-running presidential contender, Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung, has been reluctant, apparently out of concern that his current lead in the primary could be negatively influenced, especially at a time when the support rating of runner-up Lee Nak-yon is on the rise.

In late June, the DP's supreme council opted not to postpone the primary, but put the option back on the table amid the ongoing fourth wave of virus infections, which prompted the country to enforce the highest Level 4 social distancing rules in the greater Seoul area.


(C) Yonhap News Agency. All Rights Reserved

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