Main opposition Democratic Party leader Rep. Kim Han-gil and independent Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo will meet Thursday in an attempt to resolve the candidate nomination system for the June 4 local elections.
The announcement followed Ahn’s suggestion that he meet with Kim and ruling Saenuri Party leader Rep. Hwang Woo-yea to resolve the controversial issue. Hwang, whose party has chosen to alter the nomination system instead of abolish it, will not attend the meeting.
Although abolishing the candidate nomination system in local elections was central to the political reform pledges of President Park Geun-hye and other presidential candidates, Ahn is the only one so far to have followed through.
The ruling Saenuri Party has backtracked entirely, choosing to introduce a bottom-up nomination system with the possibility of nominations by the central party. The DP, for its part, has left its options open despite its prolonged calls for the ruling party to adhere to the president’s pledge.
The ruling party’s new system, adopted on Tuesday, will require candidates to be selected by the electoral college of each constituency.
The electoral colleges, which will consist of equal numbers of party members and the general public, will select the party’s candidate.
The party, however, maintains the right to “strategic nomination” when the individual picked through the bottom-up system is deemed to lack competitiveness.
“Introducing the bottom-up nomination system is a major milestone in party and political reform,” Hwang said Wednesday.
However, the process of adopting the system was not wrinkle-free, with the clause allowing strategic nomination prompting protests, including from Rep. Kim Moo-sung, a political heavyweight and key member of the pro-Park Geun-hye faction.
While Ahn and the ruling party have taken a clear position on the issue, the DP appears to be stuck in a very tight corner.
Giving up candidate nominations while the Saenuri Party goes ahead with them would only worsen the DP’s odds in the local elections, while backtracking would undermine Kim’s leadership and weaken the party’s appeal for progressive voters.
As it stands, the DP is merely repeating its months-old position with less than three months to go until the deadline for candidate registration.
“I will not say today that the DP cannot help but nominate candidates for the local elections. Instead, I will warn and ask the Saenuri Party and President Park Geun-hye for the last time,” DP chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil said Wednesday.
Saying “the people do not desire a president who ‘looks down on the people and the opposition party,’” Kim called on the president to uphold her pledge to abolish the system within the month
“If not, it would be right (for the president) to explain to the public and ask forgiveness for not being able to keep the pledge.”
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)