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[Newsmaker] Minor opposition party picks new floor leader amid internal strife

Rep. Oh Shin-hwan was elected floor leader of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party Wednesday, facing the task of resolving an internal strife over whether to place key reform bills on a fast-track.

Oh, a two-term lawmaker, beat Rep. Kim Song-sik in a vote by party members. He will replace Rep. Kim Kwan-young and serve a one-year term.

Kim expressed his intent to step down from the post last week, about 40 days before his term was set to end in late June.


The minor party has been embroiled in an internal feud that was highlighted by the BP and three parties' recent move to fast-track reform bills amid strong objections from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.

In early May, the ruling Democratic Party and the three small parties fast-tracked bills on electoral reform, on the establishment of a special unit to investigate corruption by high-ranking officials and on the enhancement of the police's authority.

To ram through the fast-track bid, Kim replaced two BP lawmakers on a parliamentary panel in charge of judiciary reform, inviting condemnation from party members.

Oh was one of the two replaced lawmakers who expressed intent to veto the fast-tracking of the bill on the probe unit.

The latest controversy has even threatened the existence of the party ahead of the 2020 general elections.

The Bareunmirae Party came into being in February 2018 through a merger of two minor parties with divergent support bases -- one center-right and the other left-leaning.

The merger of the two parties was viewed as a bold experiment in South Korean politics, in which regional loyalties remain strong. But party members have failed to integrate well due to the different personalities of their respective support bases. (Yonhap)