The main opposition Democratic Party and independent Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo’s political group on Sunday convened the first major gathering of key members, accelerating the process of establishing a new coalition party.
Nearly 680 members from the two sides gathered in Seoul for the meeting to forge consensus over guidelines, platforms and key rules for the new party, slated to be launched on March 26.
The gathering came some two weeks after the DP and Ahn announced their plan to launch a new party, which the ruling Saenuri Party denounced as yet another political body cobbled together to win the upcoming local elections scheduled for June.
|Democratic Party leader Kim Han-gil (left) and independent Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo express gratitude after being elected co-leaders of a committee to launch their new coalition party at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts in Seoul on Sunday. (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)|
During Sunday’s meeting, DP leader Kim Hang-gil and Ahn were unanimously elected co-leaders of a committee preparing for the launch of the party, which would have 130 lawmakers including all 126 DP lawmakers. Park Gwang-on of the DP and lawyer Geum Tae-sub from Ahn’s “New Political Vision” group were designated spokespeople for the preparatory committee.
“The creation of the party is our declaration to overcome yesterday’s frustration and defeatism and begin a grand journey toward the change of government in 2017,” DP leader Kim told the gathering.
Ahn vowed to offer hope to people who had grown disenchanted with “old politics.”
“Only through a new form of politics can we ask people to trust us. We will run for the people. We will pursue sweeping changes,” he said.
The DP and Ahn’s group agreed to name their envisioned party the “Coalition for New Politics and Democracy” and adopt sea blue as its official color.
“(The name) underscores mutual respect toward each group and the spirit of our coalition. This name combines the calls of our times for new politics and the history and tradition of the Democratic Party,” Park told reporters.
“The color, sea blue, carries the meaning of trust, hope and birth. This is to mean that the party will be born a symbol of trust and hope, and will realize the new form of politics from the people’s perspective.”
In a statement, the two groups said the new party would strive to embrace “introspective” liberals and “reasonable” conservatives, highlighting a bid to expand their political support base.
The statement also said that the party would pursue a “democratic” market economy, more effective welfare programs, denuclearization based on a strong security posture and a peaceful unification under democratic principles, among other policy directions.
After the first gathering, the DP and Ahn’s group will hold nationwide conventions for the formation of regional chapters in Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday, Daejeon on Thursday, Incheon on Friday, Busan on Saturday and Seoul on Sunday.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org