2 leaders see need for liberals to unite

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2 leaders see need for liberals to unite

Democratic Party Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu and the newly elected head of the People’s Participation Party, Rhyu Si-min, reaffirmed once again the need for liberals to unite ahead of next month’s by-elections, despite slow progress in their parties’ attempt to form a coalition to field joint candidates.

In a meeting that lasted about 30 minutes at the DP chairman’s office at the National Assembly, Sohn and Rhyu agreed on the need to unite to win the April 27 by-elections and next year’s presidential election to oust the Grand National Party.

“The most important thing for the current political world is to grasp the current of the times,” Sohn said. “We should become one. We share the same destiny. We’re not trying to win the [next] presidential election because we want to get rid of the bitterness we suffered as an opposition political party. Our top goal is to make people better off than they were.”

Rhyu told Sohn that he shares the same beliefs and asked Sohn to take the lead as the country’s main opposition party.

“Small political parties like us make harsh criticisms but things work better and the impact will be profound when the main opposition Democratic Party takes the lead,” Rhyu said.

Rhyu defected from the DP and created the PPP in January of last year, challenging the largest opposition party’s vision. Rhyu and Sohn are considered prominent presidential contenders in the liberal arena.

At the end of the meeting, Rhyu apologized and thanked Sohn, and Sohn replied, “There’s nothing to be sorry about, I’m the one who’s sorry,” according to DP spokeswoman Cha Young.

The two yesterday avoided talking about the sensitive issue of forming a coalition to field a joint candidate in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang, for the April by-election. Kim Tae-ho, a former prime minister candidate and former South Gyeongsang governor, recently announced his bid to become the new representative of Gimhae under the Grand National Party ticket.

By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article[중앙일보]

손학규·유시민, 손은 잡았지만 속내는…

손학규 “민주당·참여당 하나로 … ”
유시민 “손 대표가 큰 리더십을”
김해을 단일화 의식 미묘한 대화

민주당 손학규 대표와 유시민 국민참여당 대표가 22일 서로를 부둥켜안았다. 유 대표가 손 대표를 취임 인사차 예방한 자리에서다. 대화가 막 끝나려던 참 유 대표가 “죄송하고 고맙습니다”라고 하자 손 대표는 “죄송하긴 뭐가 죄송해. 내가 미안하지…”라면서 유 대표를 끌어 안았다.

둘은 “우리는 하나다”라며 정권 교체를 위해 서로의 역할을 다하자고 다짐했다. 국민참여당의 이백만 대변인은 “마치 큰 형님이 집 나간 아우를 끌어 안는 듯했다”고 말했다.

그러나 이들의 포옹이 오래가지 못할 것 같다는 게 정치권의 관측이다. 당장 4·27 재·보궐 선거에서 민주당과 국민참여당은 김해을 지역에서의 단일화 방식을 놓고 엇갈린 입장을 보이고 있다. 이날 면담에서도 미묘한 말들이 오갔다. 손 대표는 “유 대표에 대한 국민의 기대는 민주당과 참여당이 하나가 되라는 것”이라고 양당 통합을 거론했다.

유 대표는 “손 대표께서 제1야당 대표의 큰 리더십으로 잘 이끌어줘야 모든 어려운 문제를 잘 타개할 수 있을 것”이라고 응수했다. 민주당의 한 당직자는 “이번 4·27 재·보궐선거 직전까지가 둘의 표면적인 허니문 기간”이라고 말했다.

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