Newly appointed Democratic Party officials called for change Thursday as the party geared up for the June 4 provincial elections.
“If we do not change now, if (the party) does not innovate politics, the Democratic Party cannot survive,” Rep. Noh Woong-rae, who was appointed the DP’s secretary general Wednesday, said at a press conference.
Noh was echoed by Rep. Choi Jae-cheon, who took charge of the party’s public relations, and DP chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil’s new chief secretary Rep. Kim Kwan-young.
Park Yong-jin, who was promoted to the post of public relations committee chief from that of spokesman, went further saying, “the Democratic Party needs a revolution.”
Noh also touched on factionalism within the party, which has been partially blamed for the DP’s election defeats in 2012.
As those who newly entered the party’s inner circle declared their resolve, Rep. Moon Jae-in returned from a 10-day trip to New Zealand, piquing interest in what his next move will be. Moon, a leading pro-Roh Moo-hyun figure and the DP’s presidential candidate in 2012, is reported to be planning to announce his plans this month.
Despite the new officials’ focus on change, the ruling Saenuri Party and DP elder Sohn Hak-kyu have criticized their appointments as being based on outdated practices.
“The people want politics of a higher level. The demand is for politics that does not fight, that can achieve welfare and growth that does not lean on regionalism,” Sohn said at an event held at the think-tank East Asian Future Foundation on Thursday.
“It is not something that can be achieved simply by regaining public support in Honam in the face of the Ahn Cheol-soo wind.” Honam refers to the Jeolla province area.
Although the party said that the changes were part of its strategy for the June 4 provincial elections, critics say it placed chairman Kim’s own people at the core of the party.
Noh, Kim Kwang-young and Choi are among Kim’s closest associates within the party.
In addition to having close ties to the party chairman, the new officials are all from the Jeolla provinces, with the exception of Noh and Rep. Han Jeoung-ae, the DP’s new spokeswoman.
The move is thought to be part of a strategy to counter independent Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo’s gains within the Jeolla provinces. Although the Jeolla region has long been a DP stronghold, recent polls show that Ahn’s planned party will outperform the main opposition in the region once it is launched.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)