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[Newsmaker] Ahn’s ‘new politics’ slogan fades out after NPAD exit

“New politics” is a catchphrase that has helped Ahn Cheol-soo become the political figure he is today.

This vision for new politics was the reason voters welcomed Ahn with open arms in the 2012 presidential election campaigns, despite his total lack of political experience. It was also a title he clung to when merging with the opposition camp last year.

But now that years have passed since his grand political debut, the information technology guru-turned-politician leaves crucial questions to observers: What is new politics after all, and how will he make it a reality?

Ahn Cheol-soo. Yonhap
Ahn Cheol-soo. Yonhap

“I will answer to the people by realizing new politics,” Ahn said Sunday, announcing his defection from the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy party.

“The change of government will be the start (of new politics), and I will create a political power group that may achieve it.”

The former party cochairman thereby alluded to founding a new political party. Apart from that, however, his detailed plans yet remain obscure.

The initial goal for the now-independent lawmaker is to gather 20 or more lawmakers so that he may constitute a parliamentary negotiating body and thus hold a tie-breaking vote between the two major parties.

According to the National Election Commission on Tuesday, Ahn may receive a government subsidy of up to 8.8 billion won ($7.4 million) should he succeed in organizing a negotiating body by February next year.

“It is crucial to launch a new party prior to the general elections,” said Rep. Moon Byeong-ho, a former chief secretary for Ahn who reportedly plans to defect from the NPAD this week, in a radio interview Monday.

This is not the first time that Ahn has attempted to create a political party and tread an independent path from the major ruling and opposition parties.

In 2013, he had launched a new politics promotion committee as a preliminary step to founding a political party of his own.

He abandoned the plan halfway through and merged with the then-Democratic Party in March 2014, describing the party as a “lion’s den” and his entry as a “head-on challenge” to achieve new politics.

But the idea of joining hands with the main opposition camp ended in failure as Ahn called it quits after less than two years.

“I have failed to meet the people’s expectations. The inertia (within the party) was too great and my capacities insufficient,” Ahn said, admitting his discordant match with the opposition party.

Despite his constant struggle for “new politics,” however, Ahn is increasingly blamed for his vagueness.

“Rep. Ahn keeps saying that new politics is the kind of politics that people want, without clarifying the details,” Rep. Kim Jae-won of the ruling Saenuri Party said Tuesday in a radio interview.

“Over the past several years, Ahn has failed to present his visions and convey them to the people, which makes it hard to believe that he may suddenly change at this point in time.”

By Bae Hyun-jung (