Rep. Chun Yu-ok, a leading pro-Lee Myung-bak figure, defected from the ruling Saenuri Party Friday amid a nomination feud and became the first incumbent lawmaker to join the new center-right K Party.
Her move led to speculation that other ruling party members may follow suit, in protest of the party’s candidate nominations and Rep. Park Geun-hye’s leadership.
“I am breaking away from Saenuri in order to protect the values of conservatism,” Rep. Chun said in a press conference.
“The Saenuri Party is no longer fulfilling its role as a right-wing party and I took the K Party as a valid alternative.”
The current Park leadership is determined to kick out all true conservative figures, she added.
|Rep. Chun Yu-ok (right) declares her defection from the ruling Saenuri Party and her affiliation with the new center-right K Party, led by former Grand National Party member Park Se-il (left) in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap News)|
The K Party officially kicked off last month under the lead of Park Se-il, former Grand National Party lawmaker and chairman of the non-profit think tank Hansun Foundation.
The rookie party earlier vowed to embrace “reform-minded conservatives and reasonable liberals,” portraying itself as an alternative to the current two-top party system.
The defection of the pro-Lee member from Saenuri came amid the recently escalating factional feud over the candidate nomination for the April general elections.
Chun applied for the party’s candidacy in Youngdeungpo-A constituency in Seoul but was taken off the nominee list.
The screening panel, instead, appointed former culture vice minister Park Sun-kyoo in the district. Park was also a junior colleague to Chun during her years in the state broadcaster KBS.
“I will not enter the race in Youngdeungpo to compete with a former junior colleague of mine,” said Chun.
On whether to seek candidacy in another constituency or apply for proportional representation, she said she left the decision up to the party leadership.
K Party Chairman Park welcomed Chun’s decision and expected that more would follow suit from the right-wing camp.
“We are making contacts with many incumbent lawmakers, regardless of their political tendency, and expect a considerable number to accept my offer (for K Party affiliation,” Park told reporters.
The budding party has so far delayed its nomination process, in anticipation of potential newcomers, according to officials.
“I took the lead but am not the only one within the Saenuri Party to consider joining the K Party,” said Chun.
She also expressed thanks to former party head and pro-Lee colleague Rep. Chung Mong-joon, who strongly raised objections to the party’s direction when Chun was eliminated from the nomination list.
Meanwhile, Saenuri’s nomination screening panel continued to make its announcements on Friday.
Rep. Chin Soo-hee, another core pro-Lee member, failed to win her aspired candidacy in Seongdong-A constituency in Seoul.
By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)