In an apparent push for the upcoming general election, the main opposition party announced on Wednesday a replacement of a key party post.
During a supreme council meeting convened Wednesday by Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn, Liberty Korea Party decided Floor Leader Na Kyung-won will be leaving her post on Tuesday when her term expires.
The decision comes as the party continues to lag behind the ruling Democratic Party in support ratings.
In Tuesday’s Realmeter survey of 500 adults, over half of respondents said they believed the Liberty Korea Party to be responsible for the recent paralysis of the National Assembly. About three in 10 said the ruling Democratic Party was responsible.
The party began a filibuster Friday, obstructing the parliament from acting on 199 bills, including a set of contentious bills on electoral reform and the installation of a corruption probe unit.
Rep. Na Kyung-won (Yonhap)
Shin Yul, a political science professor at Myongji University, told The Korea Herald the Realmeter poll results were “reflective of the party’s shaky approval ratings.”
According to a Realmeter poll in the last week of November, 39 percent of 2,506 those surveyed said they were Democratic Party supporters, while 32.9 percent favored the Liberty Korea Party.
“The ruling party still leads in polls despite a series of detrimental missteps such as the short-lived Justice Minister Cho Kuk and the scandal surrounding him,” Shin said, explaining, this was “largely attributable to the divisions within the opposition camp.”
Political commentator Rhee Jong-hoon told The Korea Herald the latest move to oust Na, who does not belong to the pro-Park Geun-hye faction of the Liberty Korea Party, could be interpreted as Hwang’s attempt to refashion the party around him.
“Pro-Hwang is just Pro-Park Geun-hye rebranded because they cannot be overtly pro-Park,” Rhee said.
Na’s likely successor is Rep. Yoo Ki-june, four-term pro-Park lawmaker.
In announcing his candidacy, Yoo said he would “assist Hwang in uniting the opposition” and “reforming the party ahead of the looming elections.”
In a press conference held after the supreme council meeting, Hwang denied the speculations.
“The people’s hearts cannot be won unless Liberty Korea Party, as well as myself, go through thorough reform,” he said, stressing that the recent decision was motivated by the need for changes in party dynamics rather than internal power struggles.
Some party lawmakers have protested the decision not to renew Na’s term.
Rep. Kim Se-yeon said Na’s exit was “demolition of the foundation of party leadership,” calling the supreme council decision “extremely troubling.”
Last month, Kim said he would not run in next year’s race, citing party’s inability to “either unify or reform.”
By Kim Arin (firstname.lastname@example.org