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GNP grapples with selection of leader

Big names mentioned as party chair, but all cautious about their plans


In the aftermath of its defeat in the April by-elections, the ruling Grand National Party is struggling to select a new head who may lead the party in the future, especially in next year’s general and presidential elections.

The ruling party is scheduled to line up its top leader and supreme council anew within the month through a series of in-party conventions and elections, according to officials.

As the GNP, shocked by its underachievement in the by-elections, pledged to renew itself, it is yet uncertain which of its factions shall rise in the upcoming power race.

A number of junior lawmakers and those close to former chairwoman Park Geun-hye are expected to censure the current leadership for the by-election failure.

“The party leaders have long been rubberstamping Cheong Wa Dae’s policies and thus lost the public’s trust,” said Rep. Kim Sung-tae, leader of the first-time GNP lawmakers’ association.

“A whole new leadership and a shift of power structure is necessary in order to restore that fallen credit.”

Voices are rising to request that Park assume her former party leadership again in these times of trouble.

Other major figures, such as Chung Mong-joon, Hong Joon-pyo, incumbent floor leader Kim Moo-sung and Special Affairs Minister Lee Jae-oh are included in the list of potentials.

All, however, remain discreet over their future plans.

“I shall work harder so that our party may regain the public trust,” Park said shortly after the by-elections.

The former chairwoman is currently on her visit to Europe as a special envoy of President Lee Myung-bak and has so far refrained from speaking out on her future steps.

It is, however, the speculation of many that Park, also a powerful presidential forerunner, will not spark an in-party match between the pro-Lee and the pro-Park groups before the main race starts next year.

Floor leader Kim, though he also kept silent over the issue of party leadership, is another plausible option to lead the disturbed ruling party.

Kim was formerly a core pro-Park member but stepped out of the faction after experiencing trouble with Park over Sejong City plans and other issues.

The sixth-time lawmaker then grew closer ties with other factions, especially the pro-Lee group, and was elected as the party’s floor leader last year.

As a veteran lawmaker and current floor leader, Kim is largely seen by many as capable of consolidating the divided fractions and rebuilding the party’s reputation.

Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, the party’s former floor leader, is also considered an innovative option.

As a fourth-time elect in Seoul and former chairman of a special committee for low-income citizens, Hong is reputed for his powerful and innovative leadership.

The former floor leader, however, also remains prudent over his possibilities, as did his rivals.

An emergency panel is scheduled to kick off Monday, after the present supreme council members resign en masse, and an in-party election is to take place Friday to elect a new floor leader.

Then a national convention will be held to select a new party leader and supreme council members. 

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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