Democratic Party chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil and independent Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo’s much anticipated meeting over the candidate nomination system ended achieving little less than confirming their views.
“The two agreed on the seriousness of President Park Geun-hye and the Saenuri Party’s promise-breaking, and to endeavor until the end to abolish the nomination system for local elections,” DP spokesman Rep. Lee Yoon-seok said.
He added that Ahn requested a “wise decision” from the DP and that Kim responded by saying that he will take the suggestion “into consideration.”
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 opted to introduce an alternative candidate nomination system.
Faced with two hard choices ― backtracking on an issue it has stressed for the better part of a year, or forgoing nominations and thus entering the June 4 local elections in a weaker position ― the DP has done little more than reiterate its demands. The DP’s demands include a statement from the president regarding the issue, and an apology from her to the public if the pledge is to be scrapped.
The party appears divided on the issue.
Earlier in the week, DP public relations chief Rep. Choi Jae-cheon said that maintaining the candidate nomination system was more strongly supported within the party.
Saying “Ahn has his path, and the DP has its own path,” Choi indicated that Ahn’s decision to forgo nominations will not necessarily be reflected by the DP.
Kim’s comments from Wednesday, however, indicate that the opposition’s direction is more likely to change.
“The main opposition DP cannot be dragged around by the arrogant and self-righteous ruling forces that are confident that the DP cannot help but follow if it pushes ahead and nominates candidates,” Kim said at Wednesday’s supreme council meeting.
With the party divided, a number of DP members holding local government positions are reportedly prepared to run without party affiliation should the DP forgo nominations.
For its part, the Saenuri Party is attacking the two opposition figures saying that they are being inflexible.
“Ahn is sticking to the risky original plan despite the fact that the Saenuri Party has suggested a brilliant plan that will avoid dangers,” Saenuri Party supreme council member Lee Hye-hoon said, referring to the ruling party’s bottom-up nomination system.
The ruling party’s new system, adopted on Tuesday, will require candidates to be selected by the electoral college of each constituency. The party will, however, maintain the right to replace the candidate selected by electoral colleges if the concerned individual is considered to lack competitiveness.
Other ruling party members are accusing Ahn and Kim of political maneuvering aimed at gaining an edge in the local elections.
“Discussing the abolishment of the nomination system with the DP essentially reveals (that Ahn and the DP) will form an opposition alliance (for the local elections),” Saenuri Party floor spokesman Rep. Hong Ji-man said.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com