Liberal groups merge into new party

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Liberal groups merge into new party

After months of negotiations, 12 political, labor and civic groups agreed to merge to form a new political party.

Leaders of the 12 groups, including the Democratic Labor Party, the New Progressive Party and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, agreed yesterday to launch a party by September “to meet the desires of laborers, farmers, the working class and civic society to win the legislative and presidential elections in 2012 and to build a society of new hope,” they said in an agreement.

Negotiations for the merger began in January, and the main sticking point was the party’s policy on North Korea. The groups decided the party will recognize the North Korean regime as legitimate, but based on the principles of the June 15, 2000, joint declaration signed by Kim Jong-il and then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.

The main compromise was between the Democratic Labor Party and the New Progressive Party. While the DLP insisted that the new group recognize North Korea’s regime, as it does, the New Progressive Party stressed that it must criticize Pyongyang’s dynastic succession and its attempt to transfer power from Kim Jong-il to his son Kim Jong-un.

“We respect the opinion that it is hard for the South Korean people to understand the North’s power succession and that the issue should be seen with a critical stance,” the leaders agreed.

The Socialist Party, which was involved in the negotiations, disagreed with the principle of recognizing North Korea and walked away from the talks.

The Socialist Party issued a statement yesterday calling the merger “nothing more than a stopgap measure.” The party doesn’t think the merger will last long.

Jo Yeong-gwon, spokesman of the party, criticized the compromise on North Korea. “It actually means that the new party will accept the North’s power succession, so we cannot agree with it,” Jo said.

The 12 leaders said that the primary goal of the new party will be competing in the 2012 presidential race, but that the party will be open to electoral alliances with other opposition parties to back single candidates in races in the general election scheduled for April 2012.

The Democratic Labor Party and the New Progressive Party will flesh out details of the merger by September after the agreement is endorsed at party conventions. The DLP holds its convention on June 17 and 18, while New Progressive Party members meet on June 26.

“We will find a great development in progressive politics,” said Chairwoman Lee Jung-hee of the Democratic Labor Party in a press conference. “We will open up everything and discuss everything to build up trust.”

The main opposition Democratic Party welcomed the smaller groups’ merger.

“We congratulate the progressive groups’ integration,” said DP spokesman Lee Yong-sup. “We hope the agreement will lead us to a grander integration to become the new hope for the legislative and presidential elections in 2012.”

The DP’s ambitious plan to absorb the minority groups to fight the conservative Grand National Party in next year’s elections, however, appeared to falter with the merger. Although the new party said it might form electoral alliances, it left no room for a merger with the Democratic Party.


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


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

“북 권력승계 국민 납득 어려워” 이정희·조승수 거리 좁혔지만…

민노당·진보신당 일단 통합 합의

민주노동당과 진보신당이 1일 새로운 통합정당 강령에 최종 합의했으나 야권 대통합론은 오히려 힘을 잃고 있다. 민주노동당 이정희·진보신당 조승수 대표 등이 참석한 ‘진보 대통합과 새 진보정당 건설을 위한 연석회의’는 전날 오후부터 이날 오전 5시까지 마라톤 협상을 벌인 끝에 통합정당 최종 합의문을 채택했다. 북한 3대 세습과 관련해선 “6·15 정신(김대중·김정일의 남북 정상회담 합의)에 따라 북의 체제를 인정하고, 북의 권력 승계 문제는 국민 정서에서 이해하기 어렵고 비판적 입장을 밝혀야 한다는 견해를 존중한다”는 합의문을 도출했다. 양당은 “북을 평화와 통일의 동반자로 존중한다”(민노당)와 “3대 세습 문제에 비판적 입장을 견지한다”(진보신당)는 입장 사이에서 4개월간 줄다리기를 해왔다. 양당은 통합정당을 만들더라도 일정 기간 공동대표제로 운영하기로 했다.

민노당·진보신당이 이처럼 ‘소통합’에 합의했지만 민주당 등과의 ‘야권 대통합’은 더 어려워지는 양상이다. 제1야당인 민주당에서 “야권 단일정당은 현실적으로 불가능하다”는 쪽으로 의견이 모아지고 있는 데다 민노당·진보신당도 민주당과의 통합에는 적극적인 태도를 보이지 않기 때문이다.

지난달 31일 열린 민주당 워크숍에선 야권 단일정당에 대한 부정적인 의견이 쏟아졌다. “혈액형이 다른 피를 한 몸에 섞으면 다 죽는다”(김동철 의원), “당내 의견 절충에도 4시간이 걸리는데 단일정당이 되면 40시간을 줘도 모자랄 것”(장세환 의원)이라는 등의 주장이 대세를 이뤘다고 한다. 야권통합특위 위원장인 이인영 최고의원이 “통합해야 총선과 대선에서 승리할 수 있다”고 주장했지만 통합론은 통합 반대론에 압도당했다고 한다.

민주당에선 민노당·진보신당과의 이념 차이가 크고, 내년 4월 총선이 11개월밖에 남지 않았기 때문에 현실적으로 야권 대통합은 어렵다는 의견이 대세를 이루고 있다. 민주당 손학규 대표의 후원회장인 최장집 고려대 명예교수도 한 언론 인터뷰에서 “야권 단일정당은 비현실적”이라며 “선거 연합 후 연립정부를 구성해야 한다”고 말했다. 당 지도부의 다수도 ‘단일정당’보다는 ‘선거 연대’가 현실적인 방안이라고 보고 있다.

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