How ‘New GNP’ routed MB’s faction

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How ‘New GNP’ routed MB’s faction

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A new political landscape was created within the ruling Grand National Party following last week’s surprise election of reformists as floor leader and chief policymaker, two of the party’s most powerful positions.

As a result, the party’s factional schisms, which have dominated its internal politics, are now overshadowed by a contest between the long-serving politicians and a group of Young Turks, who are in their first or second legislative terms. The Young Turks and their allies gained more power and they’re already challenging the party’s conservative values by pushing for more welfare spending and trying to repeal tax cuts for the rich and large conglomerates - the kind of policies usually championed by liberal parties on the other side of Korea’s political divide.

The group calls itself the New GNP. It has around 40 members and its numbers are growing.

Another tenet of the New GNP is that the ruling party shouldn’t use its majority in the National Assembly to railroad through legislation, which in the Korean context, often provokes brawls in the assembly between ruling party politicians and powerless opposition representatives. A segment of the New GNP has vowed to boycott any such assembly session, insisting that the two sides must reach a compromise to prevent violent scenes.

The turning point for the conservatives in the ruling party came with four by-elections on April 27, in which the GNP lost three of the races to the opposition. And in the one race it did win, candidate Kim Tae-ho, deliberately tried to distance himself from the party and rejected party support. The GNP realized the voters had turned against it.

Following the defeats, the GNP leadership led by Ahn Sang-soo, a loyalist of President Lee Myung-bak, stepped down and an election for new floor leader and chief policymaker was held. Last Friday, Hwang Woo-yea, a four-term lawmaker, and his running mate Lee Ju-young, were elected to the party’s two top jobs.

The stunning fact was that neither Hwang nor Lee were from the party’s dominant factions. They are considered moderate outsiders and yet they were elected by their colleagues.

Their election could transform the factional struggle within the GNP. The two current main factions developed after a bitter competition between President Lee and former GNP Chairwoman Park Geun-hye, daughter of former President Park Chung Hee, for the party’s presidential nomination in 2007. After Lee defeated Park, their supporters formed the rival factions and cooperation between the two have been rocky. Their confrontation peaked during the nomination process for the April 2008 legislative election.

At the time, 110 Grand National lawmakers were considered belonging to the pro-Lee faction and about 40 were considered pro-Park. Another 20 remained outside the two factions.

The factional power struggle dominated the GNP floor leader election in May 2009. Ahn, representing the Lee faction, won with 95 votes, while his rival Hwang received 62 votes from centrists and pro-Park lawmakers even though he isn’t a Park faction member.

This year, as Lee entered the fourth year of his five-year presidency, his faction started splintering as his supporters moved to line up behind potential presidential candidates. And that’s why power shifted in the floor leader election last Friday.

The Lee faction failed to unite behind a single candidate. Two men, An Kyung-ryul and Lee Byung-suk, from the pro-Lee faction ran against Hwang in a three-way race. An was backed by Lee Jae-oh, minister without portfolio handling political affairs and a key loyalist to the president, while Lee Byung-suk was backed by Lee Sang-deuk, the president’s elder brother.

In the initial round, Lee Byung-suk won only 33 votes and dropped out. In a runoff, Hwang clinched a surprise victory by winning 90 out of 157 votes, including support from party’s reformists and Park loyalists as well as from those who backed Lee Byung-suk. An won 64 votes. Three representatives abstained.

After Hwang’s victory, the first and second-term lawmakers of the capital region and Park loyalists emerged as the new power bloc in the GNP. The pro-Lee faction that is headed by Lee Jae-oh is seeing its power fading.

“This is a pattern that is normally repeated in the fourth year of a president’s term,” said Kim Hyeong-jun, a political science professor at Myongji University. “Politicians started to line up behind future power holders.”

While some Lee loyalists affiliated to president’s brother have moved to ally themselves with the pro-Park faction, others such as Chung Doo-un joined the New GNP.

As of this week, 40 lawmakers are said to be members of the New GNP, and the group said its next goal will be winning the chairmanship of the GNP in the party convention, scheduled to take place in two months.

The rest of the pro-Lee faction is regrouping around potential presidential candidates. About 30 members of the pro-Lee faction are still following Lee Jae-oh, about 10 are lining up behind former GNP Chairman Chung Mong-joon. Another 10 support Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo, while another 10 back Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon.

The influence of pro-Park faction is growing, and Park remains the most likely presidential candidate for the party.

She has about 60 GNP lawmakers supporting her.


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

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
2008년 친이 110 vs 친박 40 2011년 신주류 90 vs 구주류
의석 수로 본 한나라 권력지도

6일 실시된 한나라당 원내대표 경선 결과로 당의 ‘권력지도’는 확 바뀌었다. 원내대표 선거에서 비주류였던 황우여 의원의 승리를 뒷받침한 수도권 초·재선 의원 그룹과 친박근혜계는 이제 ‘신주류’로 부상했다. 졸지에 주류에서 비주류가 된 ‘구주류’의 친이명박계도 ‘미래권력’인 대선 예비주자들을 중심으로 뿔뿔이 흩어지는 현상이 벌어지고 있다. 이를 두고 명지대 김형준(정치학) 교수는 “집권 4년차에 늘 반복되는 미래권력을 향한 이동이 시작된 것”이라고 분석했다.

 2008년 4월 이명박 정부 출범 직후 치른 총선에서 친이계는 110여 명에 달했다. 집권 첫해의 친이계 핵심은 이상득 의원, 이재오 현 특임장관, 정두언 의원 등 3인이었다. 그런 그들이 지금은 ‘남남’이 됐다. 이번 원내대표 경선 때 이재오 특임장관은 안경률 의원을 원내대표 후보로 내세웠으나 정두언 의원은 황우여 의원을 밀었다. 이상득 의원계에선 후보로 나섰던 이병석 의원이 1차 투표에서 탈락하자 결선투표에서 대거 황 의원을 지지했다. 2009년 5월 원내대표 경선 때 친이계 후보로 나선 안상수 의원이 친박계의 지원을 받았던 황우여 의원에게 압승을 거뒀을 때와 비교하면 당내 권력지도가 완전히 바뀐 셈이다.

 이재오 장관과 가까운 권택기 의원이 9일 “이제 우리는 비주류다”라고 말한 건 이런 까닭에서다. 반면 이상득 의원계는 친박계와 한층 가까워졌다. 친이재오계 의원 일부가 “이번 원내대표 선거에서 이상득계는 ‘월박(越朴·박근혜 쪽으로 넘어감)’ 선언을 했다”며 분통을 터뜨릴 정도다.

  정두언 의원은 일찌감치 친이계 주류에서 발을 뺐다. 그런 그는 이번에 초·재선 그룹과 손을 잡고 이재오계를 치는 데 앞장섰다. 정 의원이 남경필(4선) 의원과 수도권 출신 초·재선 의원 등과 함께 만든 모임인 ‘새로운 한나라’는 초선 의원 모임인 ‘민본21’과 재선 이상 그룹인 ‘통합과 실용’의 회원들까지 흡수해 몸집을 불렸다. 9일 현재 의원 40명이 ‘새로운 한나라’에 가입한 상태다. 이들은 원내대표 경선 승리의 여세를 몰아 차기 전당대회에서 ‘젊은 대표론’으로 당권을 잡겠다는 구상을 하고 있다.


 친이계의 해체와 분열이 급속도로 이뤄지면서 김문수 경기지사, 정몽준 전 대표 등 구주류 측 대선 예비주자들도 독립적으로 세 불리기를 하고 있다. 김 지사는 4·27 재·보선 패배 이후 수도권 초·재선 의원 15명과 만나 진로를 상의했다. 정몽준 전 대표는 의원들과의 접촉 빈도를 더욱 높이고 있다. 정 전 대표는 구주류와 연대해 당 대표에 재도전하는 길도 모색하고 있다.

 집권 후반기를 맞은 여당 권력의 이동은 늘 반복됐던 현상이다. 노태우 정부 말기이던 1990년 3당 합당 이후 주류 민정계의 핵심이던 김윤환 의원이 김영삼(YS) 당시 민자당 대표 쪽으로 이탈했다. 97년 대선 후보 경선 땐 YS의 민주계 일부가 이회창 당시 신한국당 대표 쪽으로 넘어갔다. 2007년 대선을 앞두고선 여당이던 열린우리당에서 의원 집단 탈당사태가 일어나 과반 의석(152석)이 반 토막(73석) 난 일도 있었다. 서울대 강원택(정치학) 교수는 “여당 내에 미래권력으로 권력 재편이 이뤄지는 상황인 만큼 이명박 대통령도 과거 탈당을 강요당한 몇몇 전임 대통령의 전철을 밟지 않으려면 당내 반대파와의 소통을 강화하는 등 고도의 정치력을 발휘해야 한다”고 말했다.

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