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Presidential hopeful Lee Nak-yon elected new ruling party chief

Rep. Lee Nak-yon virtually delivers acceptance speech after being elected as the new chairman of the ruling Democratic Party on Saturday. (Yonhap)
Rep. Lee Nak-yon virtually delivers acceptance speech after being elected as the new chairman of the ruling Democratic Party on Saturday. (Yonhap)

Rep. Lee Nak-yon, former prime minister and one of the leading presidential candidates for 2022, was elected the new chairman of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea on Saturday.
 
The party elected its new leadership at its headquarters in Yeouido, western Seoul, during an unprecedented virtual convention attended by only a minimal number of party officials at the site, due to recent surge of the new coronavirus cases here.

The 67-year-old five-term lawmaker overwhelmingly won 60.77 percent of the votes, beating former Interior Minister Kim Boo-kyum and two-term lawmaker Rep. Park Ju-min, who won 21.37 percent and 17.85 percent, respectively. Lee will replace outgoing Chairman Lee Hae-chan for the two-year term.
 
Lee broadcast live from his home in Jongno, central Seoul, to deliver his acceptance speech virtually. He pledged to put all-out efforts into fighting the coronavirus pandemic and in overcoming the economic fallout from the virus. He also vowed the party’s devotion to the success of the Moon Jae-in administration, so that the party would produce the next president as well.

Lee has been placed under self-quarantine through the end of the month, as he came into indirect contact with a COVID-19 patient early last week, although he afterward tested negative.
 
The ruling party also elected Reps. Kim Jong-min, Yeom Tae-young, Roh Woong-rae, Shin Dong-geun and Yang Hyang-ja as its five top party representatives.

Lee’s widely expected victory further cements an apparent bid in the next presidential race in 2022. For over a year he was leading opinion polls among potential presidential candidates, though he lost that lead to Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung in the latest survey.
 
Lee will lead the party at a challenging time as the government is putting all-out efforts to prevent a looming second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as with growing public anger at the governing liberals and Moon administration over a series of policy failures intended to stabilize real estate market prices.
 
By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)

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