The Korea Herald


Race to fill empty Assembly seats amid local elections

Lee Jae-myung, Ahn Cheol-soo speculated to join the race

By Ko Jun-tae

Published : May 4, 2022 - 15:38

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Officials are at works Wednesday inside the National Election Commission's main office in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap) Officials are at works Wednesday inside the National Election Commission's main office in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)
On the sidelines of the local elections on June 1, South Korea will be electing seven new lawmakers as some incumbents have resigned from their legislative posts to run for metropolitan mayoral and gubernatorial elections.

Eyes are centered whether heavyweights that have been in the shadows will return to try joining the main circle once again and change the dynamics in South Korea’s political landscape.

According to the Public Official Election Act, those running for local elections have to give up their lawmaker seats 30 days prior to the election date to be officially considered as candidates.

From the liberal Democratic Party of Korea, three legislators have given up their seats to try out for metropolitan mayoral and gubernatorial posts.

Song Young-gil gave up his constituency in Incheon to join Seoul mayoral election, while Lee Kwang-jae left his constituency in Wonju, Gangwon Province, to bid to become the Gangwon Province governor. Oh Young-hun resigned from representing a district in Jeju Province to run for the governor of the province.

From the conservative People Power Party, four have left their legislative seats to participate in the local elections.

A constituency is now vacant in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, as Kim Eun-hye gave it up to bid for the Gyeonggi Province governor post, and Hong Joon-pyo gave up representing a district in Daegu to take a shot at becoming the next mayor of Daegu. Kim Tae-heum resigned from his representative post at Boryeong, South Chungcheong Province to run for governor of the province.

Seongnam and Incheon are drawing the most attention, as the two constituencies are touted as ones where South Korea’s political heavyweights can bid to return to the stage of national politics.

Lee Jae-myung, the former presidential nominee of the Democratic Party who previously served as the governor of Gyeonggi Province, is speculated to register as a candidate for one of the two constituencies. His return to national politics has long been awaited by many of his supporters within and outside of the liberal party.

Many are expecting him to run for the constituency in Seongnam, as he served as the city’s mayor before becoming the governor of Gyeonggi Province. The reputation he built then helped him bear the party’s flag for the 20th presidential election, despite having no experience in national politics.

But some have speculated Lee Jae-myung could return to fight for the constituency in Incheon, where the Democratic Party has a clear edge over the People Power Party. The constituency in Seongnam was shown to be in favor of the People Power Party over its liberal rival in the recent presidential election.

Lee Jae-myung, who is serving as a counsel for the liberal party for the time being, has not made any comments on the rumors thus far, but many have anticipated that he would step out from the shadows in August when the party holds its nationwide convention to elect a new chairman.

The People Power Party is speculated to have Ahn Cheol-soo, chief of the presidential transition committee for President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, to run in the parliamentary by-elections and even fight against Lee Jae-myung for the same constituency.

Lee Jun-seok, chairman of the People Power Party, told reporters Monday that his party will only make nominations for the by-elections that can assure victory, saying discussions will take place on strategically nominating certain figures for the vacant constituencies.

Ahn has also stayed silent on the rumors, but is believed to make an official announcement within this week.