Dim prospects: conservatives in South Korea

Dim prospects: conservatives in South Korea

With a presidential election to be held on May 9, South Korea’s conservative Liberty Party – known as Saenuri until

Photo: AP/Lee Jin-man

Photo: AP/Lee Jin-man

With a presidential election to be held on May 9, South Korea’s conservative Liberty Party – known as Saenuri until last month – will start a two-day primary process on Saturday.

The party’s chances of remaining in power are slim. On Wednesday, acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, a figure popular among conservatives, announced he wouldn’t seek the nomination. Still reeling from Ms Park’s dishonourable discharge, Hwang’s withdrawal leaves the Liberty Party without a high-profile candidate.

Hoping to exploit this weakness is the centre-left Minjoo Party. Its leader, Moon Jae-in, has a commanding lead in the polls and is being billed as the clear favourite ahead of the May election. While Mr Moon’s approval ratings have fallen by some 15% since the 2012 election, the absence of a clear challenger bodes well for the former lawyer.

With just 52 days left until judgement day, the embattled Liberty Party has much work to do if they’re to mount a serious challenge for the presidency. That work starts on Saturday.