Ahn Cheol-soo, the former presidential candidate of the minor opposition People's Party, regained its leadership Sunday, capping a tumultuous two-week campaign marked by rivals' blistering attacks over his candidacy.
In a leadership election, the entrepreneur-turned-politician won 51.09 percent of the vote, avoiding a run-off. He beat three other contenders, Reps. Chung Dong-young, Chun Jung-bae and Lee Un-ju, who scored 28.36 percent, 16.6 percent and 3.95 percent, respectively.
Ahn will fill the top post that has been vacant since former leader Park Jie-won bowed out in May over the drubbing in the presidential election. The new leader's term is set to last until January 2019.
At the start of the campaign, odds appeared stacked against Ahn as his rivals and some party ranks opposed his election bid, demanding he stay low-key for the time being to take responsibility for a humiliating defeat in the May presidential vote and a fake tip-off scandal.
Ahn, however, forged ahead, stressing his sense of urgency to shore up the embattled party that has seen its popularity tumble since allegations erupted in June that a party member fabricated an election-season tip-off against President Moon Jae-in's son.
The foremost priority for Ahn will be to bring together a divided party, overcome the aftermath of the scandal and regroup ahead of the gubernatorial and mayoral elections next June, which are seen as a public referendum on Moon's first year in office, observers said.
Ahn served as a co-chair of the party for some four months from February last year. He stepped down in June over a corruption scandal involving several party members. (Yonhap News)