Members of the nongovernmental group Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice hold a rally calling for the abolishment of the candidate nomination system outside the Saenuri Party’s office in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap News)
Democratic Party chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil and independent Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo will meet on Friday to discuss ways to cooperate on outstanding political issues.
According to reports, the two will hold a one-on-one meeting to form a united front against the ruling Saenuri Party over its stance on the candidate nomination system for local elections.
Despite the measure being a critical part of President Park Geun-hye’s political reform pledges, the ruling party has since moved in the opposite direction, citing a 2003 ruling. At the time, the Constitutional Court said that it was unconstitutional to prohibit local candidates from publicizing which party they belonged to.
“With the exception of a few people, the general opinion was to maintain the nomination system,” Saenuri Party floor leader Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan told reporters, after the party’s general meeting on Wednesday.
“Even those who say it should be abolished are saying that it should be done as it was a presidential election pledge despite the many harmful effects.”
However, the meeting was adjourned and the issue was handed over to the special parliamentary committee on political reform.
With the ruling party leaning toward a firmer stance, calls to keep the pledge have spread beyond the political arena with nongovernmental organizations staging multiple rallies.
“(Backtracking on the pledge) means that maintaining powers held by the party and parliamentarians is more important than a promise to the people,” DP spokesman Park Kwang-on said.
“This is an open challenge to the people who are in favor of abolishing party nominations for local elections.”
The ruling party, for its part, is largely ignoring such criticism by putting it down to stubbornness on the part of the opposition.
“The opposition bloc is refusing (the proposal) to introduce open primaries. Arguing for abolition of the nomination system is a political ploy,” Saenuri Party secretary-general Rep. Hong Moon-jong said in a radio interview on Wednesday.
He added that abolishing the system would have chaotic results, allowing anyone to run in elections under the banner of the party of their choosing.
Holding open primary elections was suggested by Saenuri Party chairman Rep. Hwang Woo-yea as an alternative to scrapping the nomination system.
Although intended as a halfway measure, the suggestion was met with fierce criticism from opposition lawmakers.
While the DP urged President Park to clarify her position on the issue, Ahn went a step further to say that the parliamentary committee on political reform should be reorganized.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com