Seoul, Mar 3 (EFE).- Conservative Yoon Suk-yeol, one of the two major contenders in the presidential elections to be held next week in South Korea, agreed Thursday to merge his candidacy with centrist Ahn Cheol-soo, who is third in the polls and will withdraw to support his new running partner.
Yoon, of the opposition People’s Power Party, started Wednesday’s elections in a very even position against the other main favorite, the liberal Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party, according to recent polls, which give both about 40 percent support.
The agreement announced Thursday between Yoon and Ahn, of the Popular Party, could be decisive in this context to tip the electoral balance in favor of the conservative candidate.
Yoon said the joint bid “will create a successful government of national unity,” while Ahn said the two decided to join forces “to bring about a change for the better in the government,” at a joint press conference Tuesday in Seoul.
“We will prepare for an era of great transformations, changes and innovations,” the two politicians said in a joint statement.
The agreement had been brewing for days, although it could not be closed until now due to the differences between the two forces, among which Ahn’s proposal to submit the decision on which of the two candidates would represent the joint candidacy to a popular vote.
The announcement comes on the eve of the early voting period for the elections, in which South Koreans will elect their president for the next five years.
A poll published on Feb. 25 by Gallup Korea placed Yoon with an intention to vote of 37 percent of those consulted, slightly behind the liberal candidate Lee, with 38 percent, while Ahn was in third place with 12 percent of the support.
Another consultation carried out this week by Embrain Public showed that Yoon would obtain more than 47 percent of the votes if he combined his candidacy with Ahn, surpassing Lee’s 41 percent.
To win all possible votes in this race, Lee himself merged his candidacy Wednesday with another candidate, Kim Dong-yeon, who was finance minister in the first cabinet of the current president, Moon Jae-in, and who amassed less than 1 percent in polls. EFE