Lee, GNP clean house after rout

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Lee, GNP clean house after rout


Sohn Hak-kyu, right, the DP chairman who was elected lawmaker for Bundang B District, shakes hands with newly elected Gangwon Governor Choi Moon-soon, left, yesterday after they paid respects at the tomb of former President Kim Dae-jung at the National Cemetery in Dongjak-dong, Seoul. [YONHAP]

Shocked by the ruling party’s rout in Wednesday’s by-elections, President Lee Myung-bak is contemplating a complete overhaul of the Blue House as well as a cabinet reshuffle to restore public confidence in his party in the year running up to a general election and the December 2012 presidential election.

The leadership of the ruling Grand National Party yesterday decided to step down to overhaul its image after voters - particularly the working middle class - snubbed the conservatives Wednesday. “Blue House Chief of Staff Yim Tae-hee has recommended the president to take the opportunity for a complete overhaul,” Hong Sang-pyo, senior secretary to the president for public affairs, said yesterday. “Yim told Lee that Blue House staffers are also feeling responsibility for the defeats.”

“The president is seriously thinking of reshuffling the Blue House secretariat and the cabinet,” Hong added, without mentioning a time frame.

In Wednesday’s by-elections, 38 vacancies in the National Assembly, local governments and councils were filled. In four high-profile races - to elect three national legislators and the governor of Gangwon - the Democratic Party scored two victories, while the Grand National Party and the Democratic Labor Party each gained one.

Sohn Hak-kyu, chairman of the Democratic Party, won 51.0 percent of the votes in Bundang B District of Gyeonggi in a race against former GNP Chairman Kang Jae-sup. Kang won 48.3 percent. In the Gangwon gubernatorial race, the DP’s Choi Moon-soon won 51.1 percent against the GNP’s Ohm Ki-young, who won 46.6 percent. The Democratic Labor Party’s Kim Seon-dong won in Suncheon, South Jeolla, boosting the party’s strength among opposition liberal parties.

The GNP Supreme Council had a meeting yesterday morning to discuss how to steer the party after its defeats. The closed-door session descended into a shouting match as GNP leaders blamed one another for the defeats.

After the 50-minute meeting, GNP Chairman Ahn Sang-soo announced that the entire leadership would step down and an emergency management team would be formed.

“The leadership will assume all responsibility and accept the public’s verdict with humility,” said Ahn. “We will put together an emergency leadership next month and all members of the Supreme Council will resign.”

Party spokeswoman Bae Eun-hee later explained that the Supreme Council members would resign after the ruling party selects a new floor leader on Monday, as previously scheduled.

Former GNP Chairwoman Park Geun-hye also said she accepts the people’s verdict humbly. “All members of the GNP are responsible for the defeats, and I also accept responsibility,” she said before leaving for Europe as President Lee’s envoy. Park said she will do her best to win back public support for the party, but refrained from saying what kind of role she was willing to play if the party’s emergency leadership requests her help.

The Blue House also said it humbly accepted the results of the by-elections, and vowed to pay more attention to the working class’ economic struggles. “We must accept the people’s verdict as reflected in the elections with fear,” President Lee was quoted as by Hong. “From now on, I will pay more attentions to the working-class economy and focus on creating jobs.”

Government sources said Lee spoke sternly to the Blue House secretariat, saying that anyone who wanted to play politics in advance of running for office in the future must leave the Blue House. But Hong denied the president had given such an ultimatum.

While the ruling party and the Lee administration licked their wounds, the Democratic Party celebrated and made plans as to how to use the by-elections’ momentum for next year’s general and presidential elections.

“We must prepare to win the next presidential election,” DP Chairman Sohn said yesterday morning during a party meeting. “It is the DP’s victory, the opposition alliance’s victory and the people’s victory.”

Sohn’s victory in Bundang will bolster his control over the Democratic Party and strengthen his bid to become the liberal candidate for president in 2010. By emphasizing the opposition’s electoral alliance, in which all liberal parties back a single candidate for each race, Sohn made clear his intention to become the candidate of the liberals.

Political analysts said the GNP’s defeat in Bundang was caused by the conservative, middle-class neighborhood’s unhappiness with inflation, the sluggish property market and skyrocketing housing rental fees. “The capital region’s voters in their 30s and 40s are floating voters, and they appeared to be protesting economic frustrations politically,” said Jaung Hoon, a political science professor at Chung-Ang University.

“Bundang voters were sending a clear message of warning to the GNP,” said Kim Hyeong-jun, a political science professor at Myongji University. “It’s a strong demand that Lee change his governance style and that the GNP must completely reform itself.”

While the DP and Sohn celebrated, gloomy shadows were cast over the fate of the splinter liberal opposition People’s Participation Party, which is led by Rhyu Si-min, formerly a close aide to late President Roh Moo-hyun.

In Gimhae, South Gyeongsang, the GNP and the PPP faced off, and the ruling party scored its one by-election victory. This was particularly surprising because the liberal opposition is strong in Gimhae, the hometown of the late former President Roh.

Kim Tae-ho, the former governor of South Gyeongsang, won the race for the National Assembly seat against the People’s Participation Party’s Lee Bong-soo. Kim won 51.0 percent, while Lee scored 49.0 percent.

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

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
MB “딴생각 하는 사람 청와대 떠나라”
내달 인적교체 예고 … “정치 젖어 둥둥 가면 일 못해”
‘분당 우파 반란’ 후폭풍 … 한나라당 지도부 총사퇴

한나라당 안상수 대표를 비롯한 당 지도부는 28일 재·보선 참패의 책임을 지고 집단 사퇴하기로 했다. 한나라당은 비상대책위를 구성하기로 했다. 이명박(얼굴) 대통령은 이날 한나라당 패배와 관련해 “이번 선거에 나타난 국민의 뜻을 무겁고 무섭게 받아들여야 한다” 고 말했다. 그는 임태희 대통령실장과 수석비서관들과 함께 한 티타임에서 이같이 밝혔다고 홍상표 청와대 홍보수석이 전했다.

 이 대통령은 또 “(직원들 가운데) 자기 볼일이 있는 사람은 5월 중으로 (청와대를) 떠나라. 딴생각을 하는 사람도 떠나라”는 말도 했다고 익명을 요구한 청와대 관계자가 밝혔다. 그러면서 이 대통령은 “이전 (정부 때)처럼 정치의식에 젖어 둥둥 가다 보면 행정의 추동력이 떨어지고 정치에 휘말려버릴 수 있다”며 “일하는 정부답게 일쟁이들이 추슬러 일할 수 있도록 해야 한다. 그럴 자신이 없는 사람은 물러나야 한다”고 말했다 한다.

 이날 임태희 대통령실장은 “청와대 가족들은 대통령을 보필하는 데 책임질 일이 있다면 항상 무한책임을 진다는 자세로 일하고 있다. 이번 일에 대해서도 책임감을 느낀다. (대통령이 청와대의) 면모를 일신하는 계기를 마련했으면 좋겠다”며 사실상 사의를 표명했다. 이를 전한 홍상표 홍보수석은 “이 대통령이 개각과 함께 청와대 개편도 깊이 고민하고 있다”고 밝혔다. 여권 고위 관계자는 “개각과 관련해 10∼20% 정도의 일이 남아 있는 만큼 다음달 초나 돼야 개각이 가능할 것”이라고 했다. 또 “당초 소폭에 그칠 것으로 보였던 청와대 개편 폭도 확대될 수 있다. 임 실장 경질도 배제할 수 없다”고 말했다.

 한편 한나라당 안상수 대표는 이날 지도부 총사퇴 입장을 밝히면서 “당이 환골탈태하지 않고서는 국민의 신뢰를 얻기 어렵다는 것을 확인했다”며 “한나라당은 민심에 따라 당을 쇄신하겠다”고 말했다. 한나라당은 지난해 6·2 지방선거에서 패배했을 때도 지도부 총사퇴, 비대위 구성이란 대책을 내놓은 다음 전당대회를 치렀으나 친이명박계 중심의 당 운영은 바뀌지 않았다. 이에 따라 당내에선 친이·친박 갈등구조 해소론, 박근혜 전 대표 역할 강화론, 젊은 대표론 등 다양한 주장이 나오고 있다.
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