Presidential hopefuls gearing up to rein in dominance of Lee Jae-myung

Feb 16, 2021, 08:46 am

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Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun speaks during a meeting of the Central Central Disaster Management Headquarters on the government's response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak at Government Complex-Sejong on Feb. 14, 2021./ Photographed by Jung Jae-hoon

AsiaToday reporter Jeong Geum-min

As Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung is firmly at the top of most presidential hopefuls polls, many presidential hopefuls of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) are gearing up to rein in Lee’s dominance. Debates are rising over Lee’s basic income scheme among DP presidential hopefuls, including DP Chairman Rep. Lee Nak-yon, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, and former presidential chief of staff Im Jong-seok. On the surface, they are stressing the need to resolve the polarization, but they are apparently keeping Lee from being the sole lead ahead of the next presidential election.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun brought up a ‘loss compensation system’ in response to Lee’s signature relief program ‘basic income system’. “It is important to create K-recovery model that overcomes inequality,” Chung said in his Facebook. “The disaster relief fund, loss compensation system, and social solidarity fund discussed by the party should be the foothold on the ladder of K-recovery model.”

The loss compensation system is a measure to compensate small self-employed businesses for their losses caused by antivirus shutdowns. The prime minister is pushing the finance ministry to achieve it. He criticized Lee’s basic income scheme in an interview with Bloomberg News on Feb. 4, saying, “There is no country on the face of earth that has successfully carried out a universal basic income system.” If Chung achieves fruitful outcome in the COVID-19 quarantine, vaccination issues, and government-led legislation, he will be able to resign honorably from the prime ministerial post to run for the 2022 presidential election.

DP leader Lee Nak-yon is pushing for profit-sharing and new welfare system while criticizing the Gyeonggi governor’s basic income scheme. He plans to materialize his scheme by the beginning of March when he resigns from the post for the presidential race. The profit-sharing aims to provide administrative and financial support to conglomerates and platform companies that voluntarily share the profits generated by win-win cooperation. 

Rep. Lee is preparing an environment for applying the profit-sharing system in the field before legislating it. He held a win-win agreement ceremony on Monday with Woowa Brothers, the operator of delivery app Baedal Minjok, and the Korea Franchise Union, and said, “There have been many efforts for win-win cooperation in the past, but this is the first time in earnest to fundamentally improve the difficulty of the field.”

Former presidential chief of staff Im Jong-seok took part in the basic income debate. He pointed out that the basic income system is insufficient as a welfare system. “Providing equally to all regardless of assets or income is neither just nor realistic,” he wrote on his Facebook account on Sunday.

As DP presidential hopefuls are trying to rein in Gov. Lee’s dominance, some are now claiming that the party should postpone its decision for its next presidential candidate. Under the current Party Constitutional Rules, the party should decide its next presidential candidate 180 days before the next presidential election. 

#Lee Jae-myung #presidential hopefuls #basic income #Chung Sye-kyun #Lee Nak-yon 
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