GNP’s Lee Hoi-chang Satisfied with Election Results

Apr 14,2000

Grand National Party (GNP) president Lee Hoi-chang has managed to save face in the general elections. Although his party suffered a defeat in the hotly-contested and politically crucial metropolitan area, Lee is satisfied because the GNP retained its position as the largest political bloc in the National Assembly.
"Voters made a wise choice in the most corrupt elections ever, which were tainted with government intervention on behalf of the ruling party, as well as rampant vote-buying activities," the GNP president said. He added that he will humbly pursue political collaboration in the future.
Lee Won-chang, a spokesman at the GNP election camp, claimed that his party is the "true victor of the congressional elections as it retained its status as the number one party in the National Assembly, despite the government's meddling in election campaigns and its vote-buying activities, not to mention its trumpeting the news of inter-Korean summit talks just three days before the elections." He also said that while it is true that the GNP trailed the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) in the metropolitan area, "the GNP put up a good fight, having to struggle in the worst conditions imaginable." He refused to concede the MDP's claim of being the "genuine victor" of the elections, based on its strong showing in the politically crucial Seoul metropolitan area.
Lee Hoi-chang plans to prepare for future presidential elections by re-organizing the GNP’s party structure in the near future. First of all, he will hold a national convention in mid-May and seek endorsement for his re-appointment as GNP head. Although some party members are moving to hold him responsible for the GNP's defeat in Seoul and Kyonggi Province, he is expected to easily undermine these denunciations.
Sources close to Lee believe that he will be re-appointed, no matter who challenges him for the GNP's presidency. GNP vice-president Kim Deog-ryong, and Representatives Kang Jae-sup and Kang Sam-jae, who all won parliamentary seats in the elections, are expected to stand up against Lee Hoi-chang.
The prevailing opinion is that it would be difficult for inter-party ‘rebels’ to gain a strong foothold in the upcoming party elections. Many among the anti-Lee faction have already broken ranks with the GNP over the process of candidate nomination, but the dominant party sentiment is that the election results were satisfactory. Accordingly, observers believe heavy-weights in the anti-Lee faction might abandon their challenges against Lee halfway, frustrated by the unlikely possibility of their winning the party elections.
Some believe Lee Hoi-chang's party leadership was strengthened during the general elections since the vast majority of candidates who won seats in the congressional elections were aligned with Lee. Herein lies the reason for Lee's statement: "Although the GNP suffered from internal strife over the candidate nomination process, we have succeeded in our attempts to begin a new era in Korean politics."
Should Lee Hoi-chang be re-appointed as GNP president, it is assumed that his plans to run in future presidential elections will be solidified.

by Lee Sang-il

이회 창 총선 선거결과에 민족

한나라당 이회창(李會昌)총재가 일단 체면을 세웠다.한나라당이 제1당을 유지했기 때문이다.수도권에서 패배하긴 했지만 李총재는 흡족해 했다.
 李총재는“정권의 관권·금권선거등 사상 최악의 혼탁선거 속에서도 국민이 현명한 선택을 했다”며 “앞으로 겸허한 자세로 상생(相生)의 정치를 펼치겠다”고 말했다.
 이원창(李元昌)선대위 대변인은 “이 정권이 선거 사흘전에 남북 정상회담을 발표하는등 사상 유례없는 관권·금권선거를 자행하는 속에서 제1당의 위상을 지켜낸 것은 한나라당의 승리”라고 주장했다.그는 “수도권에서 민주당에 뒤진 것은 사실이나 최악의 조건에서 싸운만큼 선전했다고 본다”며 수도권에서 이긴 민주당의 ‘진정한 승리론’에 동의하지 않았다.
 李총재는 조속히 당체제를 정비해 차기 대선을 준비한다는 방침이다.우선 다음달 중순 조기전당대회를 열어 재신임을 물을 계획이다.당내 비주류 일부가 수도권 패배에 대해 李총재의 책임론을 제기하려는 움직임도 있지만 李총재는 정면돌파할 것으로 예상된다.
 “전당대회에서 누가 총재자리에 도전하든 당당히 맞서 재신임을 얻을 것”이라는 게 李총재 측근들의 얘기다.비주류 도전자론 이번 선거에서 당선된 김덕룡(金德龍)부총재,강재섭(姜在涉)·강삼재(姜三載)의원등이 꼽힌다.
 하지만 경선에서 비주류가 득세하긴 어려울 것이란 전망이다.반(反)李총재 세력중 상당수가 공천과정에서 당을 떠났고,“선거결과가 그런대로 좋게 나왔다”는 분위기가 지배하고 있기 때문이다.따라서 비주류 중진들이 경선채비를 갖추다가 역부족을 느껴 주저앉을 가능성도 있다는 관측이다.아예 비주류가 잠자코 있을 가능성도 배제할 수 없는 상황이다.
 결국 이번 총선을 통해 李총재의 당내 리더십은 오히려 강화됐다는 분석도 나오고 있다.당선자중 李총재계로 분류되는 인물들이 대다수를 차지했기 때문이다.李총재가 “공천파동을 겪었지만 새 정치를 펼치려는 시도는 성공했다”고 자평한 까닭도 여기에 있다.
 李총재가 전당대회 문턱을 순조롭게 넘을 경우 차기 대선을 향한 그의 발걸음은 빨라질 것이다

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