The March 26 launch ceremony carried a strong undercurrent of national security, an element of politics more closely linked to conservatives.
Early in the ceremony, even before the pledge of allegiance, the participants paid their respects to the 46 sailors of the South Korean Navy ship Cheonan that was sunk by North Korea in 2010.
The venue was also decorated with a large banner carrying the iconic palm print of Korean independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun.
“Strong national security and inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation can coexist and be carried out simultaneously,” Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, NPAD cochairman, said at the launch ceremony.
|NPAD cochairman Rep. Kim Hang-gil (left) and Ahn Cheol-soo (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)|
“It is not a conservative or progressive (political stance) but the lives of the people that is the priority.”
The new party’s emphasis on national security, seen as the main tool in its drive toward the political center, is not for show only.
The NPAD’s party doctrine includes inter-Korean agreements formed during rightwing governments, and recognizes the positive results of past administrations’ growth drive.
In addition, the importance of South Korea-U.S. alliance is emphasized in the party’s foreign policy and security policies.
While Ahn stressed national security, cochairman Rep. Kim Han-gil hinted that the party was attempting to avoid ideological categorization.
“(The party) should not be constrained by talk of left, right or center (political stance),”
NPAD co-chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil said in an interview after the launch ceremony.
“If there is a way to improve the people’s lives and revive democracy, then that way must be taken without fear of being branded left, right or any other way.”
In addition to bringing in the moderate voters, the change in the leadership’s stance may also be a maneuver to curb ideology-fueled factionalism within the party.
The now defunct Democratic Party was divided between the hardline pro-Roh Moo-hyun faction many of whom have experience in student activism, and moderates.
The new party is, however, unlikely to be able to rise completely above ideological issues.
The DP, the former members of which make up the bulk of the new party, was plagued by factionalism and ideological conflict even as the new party was being founded.
On March 13, Rep. Cho Kyoung-tae, a three-term lawmaker and a member of the NPAD supreme council, said that “pro-Roh-pro-North” figures should not join the new party.
“Pro-North” is a term used to refer to the more extreme left-wing politicians, most commonly in relation to minor opposition parties.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com)