After three days of stand-off, Ahn Cheol-soo and Moon Jae-in met in person again and re-started the negotiation for unifying the ticket. The meeting was enabled thanks to the decision by the DUP’s leadership to completely resign. Particularly huge was the removal of Lee Hae-chan, a former Prime Minister of Roh Moo-hyun who acts as a Karl Rove-equivalent for the DUP. But the polls say that this round of disruption only helped Moon Jae-in. In the most recent RealMeter poll, Moon comfortably led Ahn as the preferred unified progressive candidate, at 44.6% to 36.1%. Even in the three-way survey, Moon comfortably led Ahn, 28.3% to 21.5%. (Park Geun-hye still very much leads the field that 44.7%.)
Moon Jae-in, in fact, played this negotiation picture-perfect. In the short term, Moon and the DUP essentially gave into virtually all demands from Ahn’s camp, including the resignation of its leadership. Moon also declared that he would defer to Ahn as to the methodology of unifying the tickets. But in the long term, Moon’s yielding on many fronts elevated him to a higher plane. In contrast, by insisting on so many demands and walking out of the negotiation, Ahn is looking more like the “old politics” that he is supposedly campaigning to abolish. It is not simply Ahn’s poll numbers that are sinking. Ahn’s campaign war chest, after the roaring start of collecting KRW 10 billion in the first 32 hours of fund-raising, has sputtered into collecting only KRW 170 million in the next 43 hours during which the negotiation was suspended. (In contrast, Moon Jae-in’s campaign collected KRW 20 billion in the first 56 hours.)
In short, we are potentially looking at the last week in which Mr. Ahn Cheol-soo holds any relevance in Korea’s presidential election.
Ahn Cheol-soo is not the only one who has suffered — the fact that the whole politics coverage is devoted to the drama on the progressive side is irritating Park Geun-hye’s camp. Park has been putting forth significant campaign promises in the last few days, but no one seems to care. Moon and Ahn is scheduled to have a televised debate on Nov. 21; in response, Park’s camp demanded that she be able to hold a televised solo debate on Nov. 23. However, like any intercourse, we all know that having two involved is far superior to having just one involved, both for the participants and for the viewers.