South Korea’s ruling conservative Saenuri Party on Monday sought to revive political talk about President Park Geun-hye’s voluntary early departure in April, amid expectations that the fate of her presidency is most likely to be decided next month.
“Politicians have left the entire decision on Park’s presidency up to the judicial authority, ignoring political solutions,” Saenuri Party’s Floor Leader Chung Woo-taik said at a party meeting.
Before the parliamentary impeachment of Park on Dec. 9 last year, the conservative party had pushed for an “orderly exit” of the scandal-ridden president, suggesting April as the ideal time for her departure and June for the next presidential election.
Rep. Chung Woo-taik, floor leader of ruling conservative Saenuri Party speaks to journalists after party meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Chung called for the assembly speaker to hold a joint meeting of all parties to discuss the matter, saying the schedule is most efficient and the ideal solution to the current political stalemate caused by the uncertainties surrounding Park’s fate.
Park, suspended from office over allegations that she let her confidante Choi Soon-sil meddle in state affairs, is currently fighting to keep her job at the Constitutional Court.
The court’s ruling on the nation’s presidential impeachment case is expected to be out by March 13, when the head of its justice bench finishes her term.
If the court rules for the ouster of the president, the nation has to select a new leader in 60 days.
Later in the day, floor leaders of Saenuri and three opposition parties -- the Democratic Party of Korea, People’s Party and Bareun Party -- agreed to accept whatever decision the court makes.
The Bareun Party, which split from Saenuri after Park’s impeachment, vowed Sunday that all of its 32 lawmakers would quit their parliamentary membership, if the court rules to overturn the parliament and reinstate the president.
“We will accept whatever decision the Constitutional Court makes. However, if the court decides to dismiss the impeachment motion, all of Bareun Party’s lawmakers will quit to bear responsibility for the botched impeachment bid as a whole,” Rep. Oh Shin-hwan, the party’s spokesperson said.
The party also demanded Saenuri do the same if the court rules to remove Park from office.
The group of lawmakers, while still belonging to the Saenuri, had voted in favor of Park’s impeachment, clashing with Saenuri leaders who remained loyal to the president.
According to the latest Realmeter poll Monday, the ruling Saenuri Party garnered 14.5 percent of support, while the Bareun Party saw 5.6 percent. Leading the pack is the main opposition Democratic Party, which recorded 43.8 percent of support. The poll was conducted on 1,004 citizens from Wednesday to Thursday.
The Saenuri Party decided to change its name to the Liberty Korea Party on Monday, amid efforts to turn over a new leaf and revamp its image, which has been tarnished by the president’s scandal. The party had last changed its name to Saenuri from the former Grand National Party in 2012, in a reform drive led by its then interim chief, Park.
By Jo He-rim (email@example.com