South Korea's ruling party picks ex-PM Lee Nak-yon as possible Moon successor

Mr Lee Nak-yon won 60.8 per cent of the total vote in the online election. PHOTO: LEE NAK-YON/FACEBOOK

SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) - South Korea's ruling Democratic Party picked Lee Nak-yon as its new leader on Saturday, paving the way for a possible bid by the former prime minister in the 2022 presidential election.

Mr Lee won 60.8 per cent of the total vote in the online election and was followed by four-term lawmaker Kim Bu-gyeom, with 21.4 per cent.

The new party leader said in his campaign speech that that he would "succeed and develop" the policies of President Moon Jae-in's administration.

Mr Lee, 67, takes the reins at the party with the nation battling a resurgence of coronavirus and soaring real estate prices, particularly in the capital, Seoul.

One of his main rivals in the presidential election is Mr Lee Jae-myung, governor of Gyeonggi province, who didn't run for party leadership and has been critical of the government.

Mr Lee Jae-myung has hit out at Mr Moon's housing policies that have made homes unaffordable for working families in his province, which is South Korea's most populous.

Mr Lee Nak-yon, who was governor of South Jeolla providence, is known for his forceful exchanges as a lawmaker and his attempts to communicate directly with citizens.

After studying at the prestigious Seoul National University and covering politics for the DongA Ilbo newspaper, he entered politics two decades ago under the former progressive president Kim Dae-jung.

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