South Korea’s ruling conservative party voted on Sunday to decide its nominee for the presidential election in December, with the daughter of late dictator Park Chung-Hee widely expected to win.
Tens of thousands of members of the New Frontier Party and select citizens chose one of five candidates, with the result to be announced at a party convention on Monday.
Park Geun-Hye, the 60-year-old daughter of Park Chung-Hee, is almost certain to win. A recent survey gave her a nearly 50 percent approval for the party nomination. She has led opinion polls for months.
A veteran politician, she narrowly lost out to Lee Myung-Bak in 2007. Lee went on to become president but is constitutionally barred from standing again.
Officially announcing her presidential bid in July, Park pledged to ease ties with North Korea that have been icy for years under President Lee, and to work harder to curb the nuclear ambitions of the communist state.
She also vowed to expand welfare and push for “economic democratisation” amid a widening wealth gap and high youth unemployment in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
Park is popular among older conservative voters who feel nostalgic about the nation’s rapid economic growth under her father’s rule in the 1960s and 1970s.
Her father seized power in a coup in 1961 and helped drive the South’s industrialisation from a poor, war-ravaged nation to an economic juggernaut, until he was assassinated by his spy chief in 1979.
She has often been criticised for her father’s past as a dictator who intensely clamped down on democracy efforts under army rule.
Huge conglomerates fostered by her father still dominate the economy, sparking resentment at their omnipresence.