Parties hit by leadership strife

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Apr 26, 2012 - 19:07
  • Updated : Apr 26, 2012 - 19:07
Key figures of Saenuri, DUP accused of back room deals over party posts that will sway presidential election

The country’s two largest parties are embroiled in factional politics and backdoor power plays as they move to select new leaders who will guide them into a crucial presidential election at the end of the year.

In the ruling Saenuri Party, rumors that current party chief Park Geun-hye has already sorted out who will take what posts in the next leadership council created an uproar among members.

The main opposition Democratic United Party was thrown into turmoil Thursday after news reports that the leaders of the party’s two rival factions had a deal to share key leadership posts between themselves.

Under the parties’ charters, a chairman and other leaders are elected by members in a national convention.

The Saenuri Party is to hold its leadership election on May 15. The DUP is to elect a floor leader on May 4 and then a new party chief on June 9.

No Saenuri politician has declared a run in the leadership election.

Saenuri chief Park Geun-hye on Wednesday denied media reports that most of the leadership posts, to be elected by members next month, were already allotted to her key allies.

In unusually harsh words, Park rapped her lieutenants for engaging in a “factional power game.”

“Stories that are made up and far from truth are circulating around and get reinforced and picked up by the media,” she said. “We will face the (people’s) judgment, if you continue to show conflict and split just days after the election.”

Local media reported the existence of a list, purportedly written by lawmakers closer to Park, which entails the lineup of a new leadership which will handle the presidential nomination process. According the reports, Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, currently the party’s floor leader, is tapped to take over the chairmanship from Park, while Reps. Seo Byung-soo, Lee Ju-young and Choi Kyung-hwan will assume positions of the floor leader, the chief policymaker and the secretary general.

Park’s opponents and reformist members cried foul. They criticized Park for monopolizing the party in a bid to secure a presidential ticket.

“Our party’s decision-making process is shrouded in mystery,” said Kim Moon-soo, governor of Gyeonggi Province and former lawmaker. “Party leaders are to be elected through a vote according to party rules.”

Stung by the criticism, Seo and Choi said they would not make a bid for the leadership positions.

On the side of the largest opposition DUP, Lee Hae-chan and Park Jie-won faced a backlash from members after it was revealed that they reached a backdoor deal Wednesday on the formation of a new leadership.

Lee and Park lead two rival factions within the liberal party. A former prime minister under the late President Roh Moo-hyun, Lee leads a faction of DUP lawmakers loyal to Roh. Park, former chief of staff to the late President Kim Dae-jung, Roh’s predecessor, belongs to another group loyal to Kim.

According to reports, they agreed that Lee would become the party chief while Park takes the post of a floor leader.

“If the reports are accurate that a few politicians tried to share party posts between themselves, they will never earn the public confidence,” lawmaker-elect Kim Han-gill said. Kim is said to be considering a run in the party leadership race.

By Lee Sun-young (