In a national party convention, the former unification minister took the helm of the party whose approval ratings have been languishing in woeful single digits, with its members still smarting from a humiliating election debacle in June.
|Chung Dong-young (Yonhap)|
Chung replaced four-term lawmaker Cho Bae-sook, who had led the party since a group of defectors from a center-left party launched it in February to retain their liberal political platform against a middle-of-the-road political campaign.
In his acceptance speech as the party's new leader, Chung said he will spare no efforts to reinvigorate the party, which he says is "at a crossroads for survival."
The party aims to speak for disempowered and vulnerable people, Chung said.
The most immediate challenge for Chung is expected to be boosting its support ratings that have been hovering between 1 percent and 3 percent. He may also face pressure to boost his party's parliamentary presence, as it has only 14 seats, short of the 20-seat threshold required to form a parliamentary negotiating bloc, observers said.
In 1996, Chung entered politics with the recommendation of former late President Kim Dae-jung. That year, he was first elected to the National Assembly. Between 2004 and 2005, when then-President Roh Moo-hyun was in office, Chung served as the unification minister.
During a presidential election in 2007, Chung was a standard-bearer for the then ruling United New Democratic Party. But he lost by a large margin to then opposition candidate Lee Myung-bak. (Yonhap)