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Liberal opposition forges alliance

DUP, UPP agree to field unified set of candidates to secure majority in next Assembly


The main opposition Democratic United Party and the far-left Unified Progressive Party on Saturday agreed to form a strategic alliance for the upcoming general elections after more than three weeks of tough negotiations.
With the shared goal of securing a majority at the National Assembly, the alliance of the two parties is expected to pose a formidable challenge to the ruling Saenuri Party in the April 11 elections.

After the marathon negotiations that stretched into early Saturday morning, DUP leader Han Myeong-sook and UPP co-head Rep. Lee Jung-hee signed the agreement over the joint nomination process and a policy alliance.

Which party’s candidates will be put up for which constituency had been the major bone of contention that hampered their efforts to form the comprehensive alliance.

Under the agreement, they agreed to field only UPP candidates in 16 districts and pick a unified candidate for 76 constituencies after an opinion poll contest between the two parties’ candidates.

For the 16 districts assigned to UPP candidates, nine DUP candidates are to withdraw their parliamentary bids. In the remaining seven districts, no DUP members have applied to run. 
Democratic United Party chairwoman Han Myeong-sook (right) poses with Lee Jung-hee, the chief of the minor opposition wing Unified Progressive Party, after they agreed on an election alliance at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, Saturday. (Yonhap News)
Democratic United Party chairwoman Han Myeong-sook (right) poses with Lee Jung-hee, the chief of the minor opposition wing Unified Progressive Party, after they agreed on an election alliance at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, Saturday. (Yonhap News)

The two parties also agreed to forge a policy alliance to step up their opposition to the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement to take effect on Thursday and the construction of a strategic naval base on the southern resort island of Jeju.

“For the first time in Korea’s history, we have succeeded in forming the opposition’s alliance that is nation-wide and comprehensive,” DUP leader Han told a press conference after announcing their agreement.

“Through detailed policies, we, hand-in-hand, will win the general election and the presidential vote.”

According to the agreement, there are no districts in Seoul where the UPP will put up candidates. But in four districts in the surrounding areas of Incheon and Gyeonggi Province, they will put up candidates. Also under the deal, 21 of the 76 contested districts are located in Seoul with 23 in Gyeonggi Province, five in Incheon, 21 in the southeastern Yeongnam region, one in the central Chungcheong region, three in Gangwon Province and two for Jeju.

The opinion poll contests for the districts are slated to take place from Saturday to Sunday.

One of the hotly contested districts is expected to be Gwanak-eul in southern Seoul where UPP co-leader Lee will run. For this district, DUP Rep. Kim Hee-chull and former presidential spokesperson Chung Tae-ho are vying to get the party’s ticket.

As the two parties have agreed to show a united stance on several policy issues, the opposition’s resistance against the free trade pact with the U.S. and the envisioned naval base on Jeju is expected to intensify.

They agreed to “completely oppose the implementation of the FTA with the U.S.”

The wording was negotiated as the two parties had different positions. The DUP had argued that there should be a “renegotiation” over disputed clauses in the pact while the UPP had called for the scrapping of the pact.

Regarding the naval base, they agreed to “seek the stop of or reconsideration of the construction of the naval base.”

Amid moves to reverse major national projects the Lee Myung-bak government has pushed forward, some observers cautioned against any “irresponsible” moves aimed primarily at election victory.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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