Minority parties struggle

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jan 20, 2012 - 18:50
  • Updated : Jan 20, 2012 - 18:54

The Grand National Party’s emergency leadership member Kim Jong-in (third from left) attends a council meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on Friday amid a controversy over his remarks that President Lee Myung-bak should leave the ruling party. Some members loyal to the president are demanding Kim’s resignation. (Yonhap News)
LFP damaged by breakaways, feuds; UPP offers a hand to DUP

The major parties have taken action to overcome the crisis ahead of this year’s elections, but most minor parties are still caught in incessant feuds.

The ruling Grand National Party, after a series of election defeats and criticism for its snap-passage of free trade agreement with the U.S., late last year replaced its Supreme Council with an emergency leadership led by presidential hopeful Park Geun-hye.

The main opposition Democratic United Party, formed after disputes and scuffles over left-wing unity and the election of its leadership, recently organized its new supreme council, with former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook as chairwoman.

However, the conservative minority Liberty Forward Party still faces uncertainty.

Earlier this month, 11 regional committee chairpersons of the party filed for an injunction demanding that their leader Sim Dae-pyung be stripped of his authority as chairman.

Sim agreed to become the party’s interim chairman and was due to hold a national convention to select a new leader but failed to keep his promises, they claimed.

The legal action fanned concerns that the party may split, though it is mere months since it united with another minority party, People First Union.

Infuriated supreme council members urged the committee chairs to draw back the injunction immediately.

“Their action is intolerable, especially considering the upcoming critical general elections,” said Rep. Rim Young-ho.

Rep. Lee Hoi-chang, former chairman and initiator of the party, also claimed that the injunction suit was politically inappropriate and that it should be recanted.

The internal feud made matters worse for the party, as several of its members recently broke their allegiance, too.

The LFP’s political prestige fell greatly after it lost the Seosan mayoral by-election in October, though the South Chungcheong city was considered its stronghold.

In the aftermath of the defeat, Reps. Lee Yong-hee, Lee Sang-min, and Kim Chang-su broke away to join the newly formed DUP, thus reducing the LFP’s share in the parliament.

The party’s election slump largely is attributable to the fact that Chungcheong provinces were excluded from profitable national projects such as Sejong City and the Science Belt.

“The current situation is actually in our favor as both leading parties are plagued by bribery suspicions,” said a key party official. “However, should we fail to take advantage of the chance, the Chungcheong votes will move on to the DUP.”

While the LFP sought to recover, the left-wing minority Unified Progressive Party made efforts to join forces with the biggest opposition party.

The three joint chairpersons of the UPP earlier offered a political alliance to the DUP and the nomination of their unified candidates in the upcoming elections.

DUP leader Han, however, effectively declined their offer and claimed that the two parties should merge before discussing unified nominations.

The two opposition groups nevertheless shared a view that all must be done to oust the conservatives from power.

The UPP kicked off in December from the union of three liberal parties ― the Democratic Labor Party, the People’s Participatory Party and a defective group from the New Progressive Party.

The new party, to the left of the DUP, has vowed to increase the number of its parliamentary seats from seven to more than 20, which is the quorum for a party to attend floor negotiations with other parties.

No matter what ambition it holds in the elections, it is generally agreed that a left-wing alliance is a prerequisite for the UPP to realize this ambition.

By Bae Hyun-jung (