A dispute over candidate nominations is once again engulfing the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy ahead of the crucial July 30 parliamentary by-elections.
Of the 15 constituencies that will be contested, the NPAD will name candidates for five including Seoul’s Dongjak-B and Gwangju’s Gwangsan-B.
Only a day has passed since the decision was made, but the party is already experiencing trouble with one would-be lawmaker staging a sit-in protest while another openly defies the decision.
The latest candidate nomination-related developments led to Heo Dong-jun staging a sit-in protest in the party chairman’s conference room on Friday. Heo, along with a number of party members from Dongjak-B, protested the decision to name former Seoul Vice Mayor Ki Dong-min as its candidate for Seoul’s Dongjak-B constituency.
The race for the constituency has been one of the most closely watched issues of the by-elections from the outset with heavyweights from both ruling and opposition parties being linked to the election.
|Heo Dong-jun (center) and his supporters stage a sit-in protest over Ki Dong-min’s nomination in the National Assembly on Friday. (Yonhap)|
Heo, who served as the chief of the defunct Democratic Party’s committee for Dongjak-B, had hoped to win his candidacy for the district.
“It is a nomination in which everyone loses,” Heo said in a radio interview on Friday. He added that the party’s view that Ki would expand its support base was misguided.
“Local residents want a candidate who knows and is capable of developing the area, but this decision goes against the public opinion.”
According to Heo and his supporters, more than 15,000 Dongjak-B residents have pledged their support.
Heo is not alone in being disgruntled by Ki’s nomination.
Also on Friday, a key associate of NPAD co-chairman Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo resigned as a party spokesman. The move is thought to have been prompted by his being passed over for the Dongjak-B race.
“I heard the decision to make a strategic nomination from Ahn yesterday, and told (Ahn) that I will accept the decision and also that I would step down from the spokesman’s post,” Geum said.
He added that the party leaders suggested he run for other constituencies but declined to “take responsibility” for his earlier announcement about running for Dongjak-B.
In Gwangju’s Gwangsan-B, former Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae has effectively been pushed out of the nominations.
“(The party) has deprived the people of a choice despite the trouble experienced after making a strategic nomination for the Gwangju mayor in the local elections,” Chun said in a radio interview.
In the run up to the June 4 local elections, the party was plagued by defections and in-fighting after Yoon Jang-hyun was chosen over Lee Yong-sup and Kang Woon-tae for the Gwangju mayoral race. Yoon, another key associate of Ahn, went on to win though his nomination prompted a large number of members, including Lee Yong-sup, to sever ties with the party.
The party’s decision, backed by co-chairmen Reps. Kim Han-gil and Ahn Cheol-soo, is also riling a large number of lawmakers in the party.
“I want to ask what the principles of the NPAD’s candidate nominations for the July 30 by-elections are,” five-term lawmaker Rep. Chung Sye-kyun said in a text message sent to reporters on Thursday.
“Candidate nomination without principles will lower the party’s credibility and can only have negative effects in the elections.”
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com