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Main opposition in disarray after election defeat

Kim Chong-in (Yonhap)
Kim Chong-in (Yonhap)

The main opposition United Future Party on Sunday struggled to form a new leadership to navigate its way out of its worst election debacle, suffered in last week’s parliamentary polls.

The conservative party’s Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn stepped down from his post, taking responsibility for the loss in the April 15 general elections.

Kim Chong-in, a veteran politician who joined the party to lead its election campaign, is widely expected to take charge, reforming and rebuilding the conservative group.

Kim, who helped President Moon Jae-in and his predecessor Park Geun-hye win presidential elections, reportedly demanded full authority for the post until year-end as a condition to accept the offer.

Some party big wigs expressed their opposition to Kim helming the emergency leadership.

On Sunday, Rep. Kim Tae-heum, elected to a third term, expressed regret over his party leadership’s “unilateral” decision to form the commission and entrust the future of the party to outsider Kim Chong-in.

“What the leadership, which is infinitely responsible for the crushing defeat of the general election, should do is to listen to the opinions of the party members to decide the future course of the party,” he said in a statement.

Other party members such as Rep. Jang Jae-won and Rep. Chung Jin-suk have shown their support for Kim Chong-in to overcome the crisis and carry out reformation of the party.

As the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and its satellite group won a solid majority with a total of 180 out of 300 parliamentary seats, the United Future Party is under pressure for drastic renovation to mend internal rifts and gain public support.

The rival parties are set to handle an extra budget bill designed to strengthen quarantine measures and minimize the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus in an extraordinary parliamentary session. The four-year term for the 21st National Assembly kicks off on May 30.

Meanwhile, the minor liberal Open Minjoo Party, which won 3 seats, said Sunday it will hold its convention on May 11 to form a new leadership team.

By Park Han-na (