Maverick lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo announced Monday his soon-to-be party will not nominate candidates for mayors, county chiefs, ward chiefs and local council members ahead of the June local elections, throwing down the gauntlet to rival political parties.
Debate has heated up over whether the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic Party should nominate candidates for the jobs amid controversy over the pros and cons of the nomination system.
Both parties pledged to abolish the system if they won the 2012 presidential election because it was often associated with bribes between those wanting nomination and the party.
However, with the June 4 elections months away, both sides have backtracked from their pledge and voiced support for an open primary system.
The New Political Vision Party, scheduled to be launched next month, will not nominate candidates for mayors, county chiefs, ward chiefs and local council members, said its 51-year-old leader Ahn.
“We decided not to nominate candidates in order to uphold ’promises and trust,’ which are the basis of politics,” he said in a press conference at the National Assembly.
The announcement was widely seen as an attempt by the independent to differentiate himself and his party from the main parties in line with his trademark campaign for “new politics,” which stresses keeping promises to the people.
Critics also raised the possibility that the new party could struggle to find candidates for itself.
“Do you believe that the promise of a true open primary will be kept, free from the influence of the central party or Assembly members, when even the most important presidential campaign pledge hasn’t been kept?” Ahn said.
He especially criticized the ruling party for its “arrogance”
in believing that it will win the elections regardless of its wrongdoings.
“Politics is not fearing the public,” he said. “The people should be infuriated.”
The ruling party fired back, saying Ahn was letting go of “responsible politics.” The party has claimed that abolishing the nomination system could lead to a large number of unqualified candidates running for office. (Yonhap)