Broadcasters propose four-way presidential debate on Jan. 31 or Feb. 3

SEOUL-- The three main broadcasters proposed Wednesday the four main presidential candidates hold a TV debate either on Jan. 31 or Feb. 3 after a court ruled against it being held one-on-one between the two leading contenders.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) said KBS, SBS and MBC offered to jointly host the debate from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Jan. 31 or on Feb. 3 in a notice sent to the four political parties affiliated with each candidate.

The broadcasters asked that the parties respond by 6 p.m. Thursday, it said.

The DP and main opposition People Power Party (PPP) previously proposed a debate between their respective nominees, Lee Jae-myung and Yoon Suk-yeol, that would have been aired by the three broadcasters Sunday or Monday.

But Ahn Cheol-soo, the candidate of the minor opposition People's Party, sought an injunction and the Seoul Western District Court granted his request Wednesday.

"I would like to have a multilateral debate even now," Lee told reporters during a campaign event in Bucheon, west of Seoul, after the decision was announced.

"Whether it's four-way or five-way, I would like to have a multilateral debate in a way that adheres to the law and follows common sense and reason, and gives everyone a fair chance," he said.

The PPP presidential campaign committee said in a statement that it respects the court's decision and will begin talks with the DP for a multilateral debate.

"Candidate Yoon Suk-yeol and the People Power Party have no issues with a multilateral debate," it said.

Ahn described the court's decision as a "natural outcome" and an expression of the people's judgment of "a politics of vested rights, collusion and the old order."

The minor progressive Justice Party welcomed the ruling and called for immediately expanding the planned debate.

The party's presidential candidate Sim Sang-jeung has filed a separate injunction request against the one-on-one format.

According to a Realmeter poll of 1,018 adults conducted Monday and Tuesday, Yoon led the pack with 44.7 support, followed by Lee at 35.6 percent, Ahn at 9.8 percent and Sim at 3.9 percent.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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