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Chief’s shaky footing pushes NPAD into hardline stance

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Published : 2014-08-26 21:14
Updated : 2014-08-26 21:14

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy’s action regarding the so-called special Sewol bill is raising speculation that factionalism is once again rearing its head.

In this round of alleged infighting, hard-liners are thought to be gaining the upper hand, steering the party toward more drastic measures and undermining interim chief Rep. Park Young-sun.

Having failed to bring the ruling Saenuri Party to include the victims of the Sewol ferry accident in related negotiations, the NPAD is again relying on tried and tested methods to turn up the heat. 
The New Politics Alliance for Democracy’s interim chief Rep. Park Young-sun (center, front row) demands that a trilateral negotiation group on the “special Sewol bill” be formed at the National Assembly in Seoul on Tuesday. The trilateral body would include representatives of families of those who died in the April 16 ferry disaster. (Lee Gil-dong/The Korea Herald)

After a marathon general meeting of lawmakers on Monday, the NPAD has opted for “extraordinary actions” that include rallies and a sit-in at a National Assembly conference room designed to bring parliamentary operations to a halt.

The actions are in stark contrast to Rep. Park’s promise of moving beyond the old ways of a “fighting party” and to focus on politics concerning the lives of the people, made when she took the helm in early August.

The developments are thought to be a result of factional infighting, which has been more pronounced in the main opposition than the ruling party in recent years.

Following the 2012 presidential election defeat, the pro-Roh Moo-hyun figures fell out of influence. The vacuum was filled by moderate Rep. Kim Han-gil, who later shared it with Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, but moderates failed to hold sway in the party.

Experts, however, say that although factional infighting may be a side effect of the current developments, it is unlikely to be the main reason for the NPAD taking on a hard-line stance on the issue.

“She reached an agreement but Moon Jae-in started a hunger strike. (To Park) this can only appear as (an attempt to) undermine her,” professor Shin Yul of Myongji University said.

Rep. Moon Jae-in, a key figure in the once-mainstream pro-Roh Moo-hyun faction, began a hunger strike soon after the second agreement on the Sewol bill was reached between Park and Saenuri Party floor leader Rep. Lee Wan-koo.

Moon initially said the move was to support Kim Young-oh, the father of a Sewol accident victim who is staging a hunger strike that has now lasted for more than 40 days. However, Moon soon began calling for a renegotiation through social media.

“Park said there would not be a renegotiation, but forming a trilateral group is effectively a renegotiation. Ultimately she is changing her own words, and forming a very difficult situation. There is no clear exit from this situation for Park.”

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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