The Korea Herald


GNP holds vote to elect new leader

By 배현정

Published : July 3, 2011 - 19:52

    • Link copied

Attention focused on whether party will have young chairperson

The ruling Grand National Party kicked off its leadership vote on Sunday, with the result to be announced in Monday’s national convention.

The vote was open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at a total of 251 voting stations across the country, according to officials.

The new chairperson is to be selected based upon the voting results combined with official public poll results, according to the party’s revised constitution.

The GNP’s schedule is to take place as originally planned as the party’s national committee managed to pass the disputed party constitution revision bill on Saturday.

This was in response to a court’s earlier ruling that the party violated the voting rights of its members when it passed the revision bill last month in the absence of the majority.
Candidates running for the leadership of the governing Grand National Party at a joint campaigning session in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, Saturday. (Yonhap News) Candidates running for the leadership of the governing Grand National Party at a joint campaigning session in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, Saturday. (Yonhap News)

Despite worries that the committee may not make its quorum, 570 out of 740 members attended the urgently summoned meeting and 467 voted in favor of the bill.

This year’s national convention is expected to be a watershed as it is to decide the direction of next year’s general and presidential elections.

It is also to redefine the party’s political stance, especially as it adopted “integration and reform” as new keywords after the by-election defeat in April.

Amid efforts to end factional disputes, the traditional pro-Lee Myung-bak and pro-Park Geun-hye stances have lessened in importance to be replaced by other variables.

The most crucial factor is whether the conservative party is to have for the first time in its history a chairperson younger than 50.

Among the seven candidates, Reps. Nam Kyung-pil, Won Hee-ryong and Na Kyung-won are in their 40s, and largely appeal to young voters.

Should one of them be selected as leader, the GNP may shake off its rigid image and attract the attention of the younger age group.

Also, so-called “neutral” candidates, such as Hong Joon-pyo and Nam Kyung-pil, rose as frontrunners, both taking a steady lead in public polls.

Eyes were also drawn to the possibility of a female party leader, as Na put up a good fight against her rivals.

Despite the party’s external aversion to factions, however, several candidates hinted at their relationship with former chairwoman Park Geun-hye, the frontrunner for the party’s nomination in next year’s presidential race.

Rep. Yoo Seong-min, Park’s former election aide, received full support from the pro-Park group and performed above expectations, despite his handicap as a non-Seoul candidate with a low public profile.

Na, who is largely regarded as a conservative pro-Lee representative, called herself “election queen No.2,” referring back to Park’s nickname as “election queen.”

She also said that a female chairperson could lay the foundations for the election of an upcoming female president, in defense of the concerns that a double female leadership may be a risk for the party.

Hong, also known for his amicable relationship with the former chairwoman, claimed to be the only candidate who may protect Park from the opposition camp’s attacks.

The GNP national convention is to take place in Olympic Gymnastics Gymnasium in Jamsil on Monday afternoon.

By Bae Hyun-jung (