Election coalition plan falls apart

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Election coalition plan falls apart

A fragile plan to consolidate opposition parties’ candidates for the June local elections fell through yesterday when months of negotiations broke down over the nomination of the candidate for Gyeonggi governor.

The Democratic, Democratic Labor, Creative Korea and People’s Participation parties had negotiated a plan to create a political alliance by consolidating their candidates in an attempt to better their odds against the ruling Grand Nationals in the June 2 elections. Four civic groups had also joined the negotiations.

Monday marked the self-imposed deadline for their talks, but after midnight the four parties had failed to reach an agreement.

The talks resumed yesterday, but again, they failed to narrow down differences on how to select a candidate for the Gyeonggi post, which has traditionally been a fiercely fought battle between conservative and liberal factions and as such has been the focus of much political interest.

Rhyu Si-min, former welfare minister of the Roh Moo-hyun administration, and Kim Jin-pyo, who served as finance minister and education minister for the Roh government, were competing to run for the post with a consolidated opposition ticket.

While Kim represents the Democratic Party, Rhyu represents the People’s Participation Party, formed by Roh loyalists who bolted from the Democratic Party in January.

Yesterday morning, Kim announced his decision to give up his lawmaker seat in an apparent attempt to pressure Rhyu, but the move was not enough to make his rival concede.

The Democrats blamed Rhyu’s obstinacy for the breakdown. Kim Min-seok, the Democratic Party’s negotiator, said the parties were near a final agreement and had drafted an interim accord on Friday when the People’s Participation Party made an issue of the Gyeonggi governor candidacy.

The People’s Participation Party disagreed, arguing that the Democratic Party insisted on rules that were favorable to its candidates.

With no alliance in the opposition faction, liberal votes are expected to split. The Democratic Party’s Han Myeong-sook had been expected to be the sole Seoul mayor candidate of the opposition side, but now she will likely have to fight other liberal candidates.

The ruling Grand National Party will hold the Seoul mayoralty primary on April 29.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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