|Democratic Party lawmakers, including chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil (fourth from left, front row) and floor leader Rep. Jun Byung-hun (third from left, front row), call for the abolishment of the candidate nomination system at the National Assembly on Thursday. (Lee Gil-dong/The Korea Herald)|
The main opposition Democratic Party on Thursday intensified the barrage against the ruling Saenuri Party and President Park Geun-hye over the disputed candidate nomination system. Citing a statement Park made during her election campaign that the “worst kind of politics is that which does not keep promises to the people,” the DP concentrated its attack on the president.
“The president and the Saenuri Party are trying to scrap the promise of political reform, the pledge to abolish the party nomination system in provincial elections,” the DP said in a statement after a general meeting. The main opposition went on to claim that the ruling party was backtracking on the pledge on the president’s behalf, while she keeps silent.
“The DP demands in the name of the people: immediately fulfill the promise of political reform and the pledge of nomination abolishment, and apologize for scheming to deceive the public.”
Although Park pledged to do away with the party nomination system for selecting candidates for provincial elections, the issue has run aground due to opposition from the Saenuri Party.
The ruling party is leaning towards maintaining the system, and has deferred the matter to the special parliamentary committee for political reform.
“Many lawmakers condemned (the Saenuri Party) and called for the abolishment of the nomination system during the undisclosed part of the meeting,” DP floor spokesman Rep. Park Soo-hyun said. He added the meeting was called to reaffirm the party’s stance, rather than to decide on measures aimed at achieving its demands.
As the party concentrated its fire on the president, DP floor leader Rep. Jun Byung-hun attacked Saenuri Party chairman Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, saying his latest suggestion was a “sly ploy to delay and water down the issue.” He added that the special committee on political reform received reports from the Korean Public Law Association and the Korean Bar Association that abolishing the system would not be unconstitutional.
On Thursday Hwang, who suggested open primary elections as an alternative, suggested that the matter be put to the review of authoritative organizations to prevent chaos down the line.
“If the issue becomes mired in political wrangling or an agreement distorted by parties’ interests is reached, the people will not stand by,” Hwang said. He added that the party should complete its own plans to reform the system within January.
Along with citing the potential unconstitutionality of abolishing the nomination system, the ruling party may be looking to garner support from political minorities.
“(Abolishing the system) will make elections favorable to those who have a localized power base, and set a high entry barrier for women and newcomers,” said Rep. You Jee-young, who organized a seminar on the issue, in a statement.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com