Yoo Seong-min also renewed his opposition to a merger with the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, amid growing speculation that the conservative parties would seek a tie-up ahead of the gubernatorial and mayoral elections slated for next June.
"I will revive the crisis-hit party should I be elected the party leader," Yoo told reporters. "I will keep alive the hopes for reforming conservative politics on the back of support from citizens and party colleagues."
|Yoo Seong-min, the former presidential candidate of the minor opposition Bareun Party, speaks during a press conference at the party headquarters in Seoul on Sept. 29, 2017. (Yonhap)|
The leadership election was arranged after former leader Lee Hye-hoon resigned earlier this month amid a graft scandal just three months after her inauguration. The scandal dealt a blow to the party's drive for "new, transparent" conservatism.
During the press conference, Yoo also sent an unsubtle message to some party members eyeing a tie-up with the LKP, saying that with "old conservatism," his party cannot win in next year's regional elections and in the presidential vote in 2022.
The party splintered off from the LKP in December amid a factional feud over the impeachment of corruption-tainted former President Park Geun-hye. But calls have persisted for their integration to better keep the liberal ruling party in check.
Bareun Party lawmakers are split over the merger idea with some averse to allying with the main opposition party affiliated with the disgraced former leader. They believe Park is symbolic of "outdated, decadent" conservatism.
But the momentum for integration has emerged recently as the LKP pushes for its internal reform, including the "personnel cleanup," and some senior members of the splinter party seek a stronger legislative voice against their liberal rivals.
Earlier this week, senior lawmakers of the two parties agreed to form a panel to push for integration among right-wing politicians. They decided to discuss details about its makeup on Oct. 11 after the Chuseok holiday, the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving. (Yonhap)