|Independent lawmaker Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo (second from left) announces his plans to launch a new party at a forum on Jejudo Island on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)|
Independent Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo is set to launch his party in March and field candidates for all major posts in the June 4 local elections.
Speaking at a forum in Jeju on Tuesday, Ahn announced that he will launch his own party to put an end to politics that “deceives the public and breaks promises.”
“The new party will root out the decades-long illness in Korean politics and bring about big changes,” Ahn said.
Saying that his “new politics” committee felt the public’s distrust of established parties, Ahn said that his party will look to the future and “walk the road of integration.”
He added that the forces that achieved Korea’s democratization and industrialization should come together to make a new paradigm for the era.
“Rational conservatives and introspective progressives will come together (in the new party) to pursue reform logical for Korea’s future.”
Under the plans, a preparatory committee will be set up in February, which will work to launch the party within the following month.
Ahn also ruled out speculation that his party was an organization set up specifically for the elections, saying that his aim was to introduce a “productive competitive structure” to Korean politics.
“It was decided to launch the party before the elections so that (the party’s) ability to realize new politics can be assessed by the public,” Yoon Yeo-joon, cochairman of Ahn’s new politics committee, said. Yoon is a former environment minister who served as a key strategist for conservative politicians including President Park Geun-hye in past elections.
He added that if the party’s candidates win at least two of the 17 provincial and metropolitan city chiefs’ elections, it could be considered as a significant result.
Although Ahn has only now revealed its road map for launching the party, polls show that it may already be a significant political force.
According to a Gallup Korea survey for the second week of January, Ahn’s party would draw in about 31 percent of the voters.
Of the two largest parties, the main opposition Democratic Party would be the harder hit, with its support rating dropping to 13 percent from 22 percent.
In contrast, the ruling Saenuri Party’s ratings would dip by 5 percent to 36 percent after the launch of Ahn’s group, the poll showed.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)