Moon Jae-in Wins 60% of Votes in First Round of Democratic Party Primary
SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- Presidential frontrunner Moon Jae-in on Monday secured his first victory in a four-round battle to win the liberal Democratic Party's nomination for the upcoming presidential election.
The former chief of the largest political party here won 60.2 percent of votes cast in the first round of primary elections in Gwangju, located some 320 kilometers southwest of Seoul, according to party officials.
The result was the combination of Monday's vote from about 2,100 party members, and previous ballots cast by tens of thousands of citizens and telephone polls in the region.
Moon was followed by South Chungcheong Province Gov. An Hee-jung with 20 percent and Seongnam City Mayor Lee Jae-myung with 19.4 percent. Goyang Mayor Choi Sung took 0.4 percent of votes cast in the four-person race, the party said.
Moon's overwhelming victory may set the mood for the entire process that is set to end next Monday.
Any contender with a majority of votes will be named the party's standard-bearer in the May 9 presidential election.'
Moon's victory was especially significant as it came from the party's traditional power base of Gwangju and surrounding Jeolla provinces that form what is commonly known as the Honam region. It is often considered the home of liberal parties, including the splinter People's Party.
"Powered by today's overwhelming victory, I will achieve an overwhelming win for a change in government and meet the expectations of Honam," he told reporters.
Three more rounds of party primaries will be held until next week, with more than 2 million party members and non-party voters expected to take part in the in-house election.
Should no presidential hopeful secure more than half of the vote, a run-off election will be held and the final winner will be announced next Saturday.
Moon currently maintains what many observers here have called a comfortable lead over other contenders, including those from the former ruling Korea Liberty Party and the conservative Bareun Party.
In the latest poll on the presidential election, Moon garnered a 34.4 percent approval rating, keeping his lead for the 12th consecutive week. He was followed by An from his own party with 17.1 percent and Ahn Cheol-soo, former chief of the People's Party, with 12.6 percent.