|Ahn Cheol-soo. (Yonhap News)|
Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, a star independent trying to form a party of his own, bristled strongly at criticism of his party plans from the main opposition Democratic Party, gearing up a battle to be a leading opposition group ahead of next year’s local elections.
DP lawmakers have spoken increasingly critically of Ahn’s plan to create his own party rather than joining or forming an alliance with the DP, over concerns that it could fare well in next year’s nationwide local elections as the software entrepreneur-turned-lawmaker is hugely popular among younger voters.
A successful party of Ahn would mean a weaker DP.
DP members have accused Ahn of seeking division in the opposition bloc.
“It is a view from the privileged to characterize the yearnings for new politics as division of the opposition bloc,” Ahn said during a briefing on his party plans in the southwestern city of Gwangju, the DP’s home turf, apparently denouncing the main opposition party.
“I am wondering whether (the DP) is stuck in a deep rut, rather than trying to respond to the support from (the southwestern provinces that make up) Honam with reform, changes and power-grabbing,” he said. “Liquidating outdated forces in Honam is an irreversible demand of the times.”
Ahn announced last month that he would create a “new politics” committee, which is widely seen as a precursor to a new political party of his own.
Ahn did not say when the new party would be launched, but said he would do his best to “responsibly” take part in next June’s local elections.
Ahn’s potential party has been a focus of attention because of his popularity among young voters. If it fares well in the local elections, the envisioned party could emerge as a major force in South Korean politics, dominated by the ruling Saenuri Party and the DP.
The founder of South Korea’s largest antivirus software firm, AhnLab, had entered last year’s presidential campaign with huge support from young liberal voters despite having no political experience, painting himself as an outsider untainted by party politics.
Ahn dropped out of the race to back opposition candidate Moon Jae-in and was later elected to the National Assembly as an independent in April’s by-elections. (Yonhap News)