The calls for a Cabinet overhaul are gaining support within the ruling Saenuri Party as it gears up for the crucial June 4 local elections with a public disgruntled by the recent ferry disaster.
On Monday, Rep. Suh Chung-won said that all members of the Cabinet should tender resignations to give President Park Geun-hye “more room to move.”
“Cabinet members showing the will to resign is the right thing to do in order to give the president more room to move,” Suh said in a radio interview Monday.
While Suh explained that such a move would aid the president in removing or keeping ministers, the suggestion is considered likely to be part of his strategy for the upcoming local elections.
In addition to being a key member of the pro-Park Geun-hye faction, the seven-term lawmaker currently serves as a co-chairman of the party’s election committee.
The government and by association the ruling party have been the target of increasing discontent since the April 16 ferry disaster that left more than 300 people dead or missing.
Since the accident, the Saenuri Party’s ratings dropped to 40 percent from the annual high of 45 percent recorded immediately before.
In addition, the approval rating for President Park Geun-hye ― links to whom are considered crucial for an election win by some candidates ― hit a year-low of 42 percent in the second week of May.
The drop in the party’s ratings have had a bigger impact on some candidates including Seoul mayoral hopeful Chung Mong-joon.
The accident, coupled with his youngest son’s controversial comment, significantly cut Chung’s ratings, pushing the former lawmaker back behind rival Park Won-soon. Although Chung had been gaining on Park Won-soon, he is now seen as lagging behind by as much as 20 percentage points.
Whether connected to the changes or not, Chung has been more vocal than other conservatives about the need for a Cabinet reshuffle.
“The people consider that large (part of the) responsibility lies with the government and the ruling party,” Chung said in a recent interview with a local daily.
“The floor leaders of the two parties (Saenuri Party and the New Politics Alliance for Democracy) have said that a Cabinet reshuffle should be conducted on a blank slate, and the Cabinet should be a nonpartisan Cabinet.”
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)