The country’s two largest political parties are calling for reform and innovation in the wake of Wednesday’s parliamentary by-elections.
The circumstances behind the developments, however, differ greatly for the two parties. The ruling Saenuri Party’s reform drive is being spearheaded by triumphant chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung, whose hold on the party is set to tighten following the landslide victory in the July 30 parliamentary by-elections.
For the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, reform has become critical for the party’s future in the aftermath of the crushing defeat.
“We must not cling to the election victory. We must give up all forms of authority that do not meet the people’s standards, and first begin reforming the party,” Kim said at Friday’s general meeting of Saenuri Party lawmakers. In Wednesday’s by-elections, held on the largest scale ever, the ruling party took 11 of the 15 contested constituencies including one in the main opposition’s home turf of South Jeolla Province.
Saying that the voters chose the ruling party in the hopes that it will keep its pledges, Kim called for a wider reform.
“The Saenuri Party must concentrate on making Korea safer and reviving the economy through the innovation of the conservative (bloc) and the party, and through national innovation.”
The elections have pushed the NPAD into turmoil, and prompted cochairmen Reps. Ahn Cheol-soo and Kim Han-gil along with all members of the supreme council to resign. In addition, progressive heavyweight and senior NPAD member Sohn Hak-kyu retired from politics after losing the race for a constituency in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.
With the leadership gone, floor leader Rep. Park Young-sun has been named the interim leader. Tasked with establishing the emergency committee, Park began discussing the issue with various groups within the party.
Starting with the party’s senior advisors’ group on Friday, Park is set to hold a series of meetings throughout the weekend. The NPAD will hold a general meeting of lawmakers on Aug. 4 to make decisions regarding the emergency committee.
The party is said to be divided over the nature of the emergency committee. One possibility is for it to focus on managing the party until a party convention is held ahead of schedule to select new leaders. Others, however, are calling for an “innovation emergency committee” that would begin the process of reforming the party and holding the party convention according to the initial schedule.
The NPAD’s next party convention is scheduled for some time around March, when the former cochairmen’s tenure would have ended.
The party’s senior advisor group, which includes former Prime Minister and key pro-Roh Moo-hyun figure Rep. Han Myeong-sook, is advising the latter. The group also includes Rep. Moon Hee-sang, who led the Democratic Party’s emergency committee after the 2012 presidential election.
“The advisors reached a consensus that the emergency committee should be an innovation committee that can assess the crisis and draw up response measures,” NPAD floor spokesman Rep. Park Beom-kye said.
“(The advisors) also suggested that the party convention should be held, according to the original schedule … between January and March.”
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com