중앙데일리

GNP licks wounds, mulls its next steps

Dec 23,2002
The Grand National Party, licking its wounds after the presidential election, is navigating in stormy seas. Party lawmakers are wondering how to reorganize to keep the party stable in the wake of the decision by Lee Hoi-chang, its presidential standard-bearer, to retire from politics. They are also eyeing moves by the victorious Millennium Democrats to reform itself and perhaps to poach GNP legislators to regain a majority in the National Assembly.

GNP back-benchers and party heavyweights gathered over the weekend in separate meetings to discuss the party's future. They are debating -- reportedly not without acrimony -- if or how to change the party's leaders, reduce the size of the party's central apparatus and try to increase the role of the National Assembly in national politics to take advantage of their majority position there.

Twenty party executives heatedly debated the party's future course. Nam Kyung-pil, the party spokesman, said the participants at the meeting agreed that it was necessary to promote party solidarity and "reinvent" the party, but differed on the extent of the changes needed. No decision was reached on whether to hold a party convention before Roh Moo-hyun is inaugurated on Feb. 25. Five GNP assemblymen called for an early conclave. "We cannot counter Roh Moo-hyun's reform drive under the current situation," Mr. Lee said.

Others called for prudence. "Radical reforms that would agitate the party might bring defeat in the next general elections two years from now," Shin Kyung-shik said. "The struggle for party hegemony at this point might prompt the losers to defect to the MDP." Park Hee-tae said the party should change its mentality instead of installing younger lawmakers in leadership positions.

The younger lawmakers begged to differ, saying the party's antediluvian image was the chief cause of the election defeat. Some, though, were also opposed to an early convention, saying that hasty action could allow those responsible for the election defeat to wiggle out of their responsibility.

In other developments, the police began yesterday investigations of rumors about irregularities in the counting of ballots, although the size of Mr. Roh's win made allegations that vote-rigging was responsible for the outcome quite dubious. The police are trying to track down the source of a posting on a Web site in Ulsan the day after the election, apparently the original source of the now-widespread allegations.

by Nam Jeong-ho, Kang Joo-an




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