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5 lawmakers leave GNP to form a new reform party

July 07,2003
Five lawmakers bolted from the opposition Grand National Party yesterday, saying they wanted to form a new political party before the end of this year.
In the interim, they said, they want to join with reformist Millennium Democratic Party lawmakers to create a negotiating bloc in the National Assembly by the end of August. Such a bloc would be eligible for political funding from the government; it could also appoint a floor leader to arrange the schedule of legislative work. Twenty lawmakers from a party or 20 representatives independent from existing negotiation bodies can form such a bloc.
Representatives Lee Bu-young, Lee Woo-jae, Kim Boo-kyum, Kim Young-choon and Ahn Young-keun said in a statement yesterday, “We are leaving the Grand National Party, giving up all our vested rights, to devote ourselves to building a new party to unify the nation and the nation’s policies and to root out regionalism.”
The five were among the few liberals to have found a home in the conservative Grand National Party.
They are wooing disaffected Millennium Democrats to join them, and are focusing on the younger, first- and second-term members of President Roh Moo-hyun’s party. Somewhat surprisingly, the five men admitted that their courtship has so far fallen on deaf ears; Kim Boo-kyum said, “We urged them to leave their party with us, but they said they will try their best to reform their party first.”
The five said their new party would have no connection with President Roh; indeed, they urged him to keep his hands off the nascent new group. That could also work against their efforts to find potential ruling party defectors; many of the reform-minded Millennium Democrats have said they wanted Mr. Roh to join them in a new reform party.
But the Grand National cut their losses a bit by attracting Representative Song Kwang-ho, who left the United Liberal Democrats last month. He joined the Grand National Party yesterday.
The result of the political shuffle is that the Grand National Party retains its majority in the Assembly, with 149 seats, down from 153. The Millennium Democrats have 101 seats and the United Liberal Democrats 10. There are seven independent lawmakers.


by Park Sung-hee


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