Merger announced by three liberal groupings

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Merger announced by three liberal groupings

A major realignment took place in the liberal arena yesterday as three progressive political groups announced a merger to form a new political party ahead of the next year’s legislative and presidential elections.

Democratic Labor Party Chairwoman Lee Jung-hee, People’s Participation Party Chairman Rhyu Si-min and Roh Hoe-chan, former head of the New Progressive Party, held a press conference at the National Assembly yesterday and announced their plan to establish a new integrated progressive political party.

According to the three prominent politicians, the new party is designed to serve the people’s desire for a new kind of politics. They also said winning the legislative and presidential elections next year and bringing fundamental changes to Korean politics are their primary goals. Vowing to build a country armed with strong welfare programs, they promised to represent laborers, farmers and working-class voters.

The new political party will have a joint leadership of the three heads of the three political groups.

While the merger was agreed to by the three leaders, the DLP will have a convention on Nov. 27 to endorse the deal. The PPP and Roh’s group will approve the plan next month.

While the progressive forces’ merger picked up speed, the main opposition Democratic Party and other prominent liberals launched a conference to facilitate a grand merger.

The Democratic Party and the Innovation and Integration, formed by Roh Moo-hyun loyalists, along with independent politicians, civic activists and labor representatives yesterday held a meeting to push forward the ambitious political experiment of a grand merger. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and South Gyeongsang Governor Kim Du-kwan - who have no party affiliations - as well as the Federation of Korean Trade Unions are also members of the conference.

The joint conference also said their goal is winning elections next year. The members have agreed to hold a joint national convention on Dec. 17 to elect a new liberal leadership.

“Today, we are writing a new history,” DP Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu said yesterday. “The key protectors of the democracy are now gathered together here.”

It remains to be seen if a grand merger of the liberals and progressives will happen before next year’s elections. While Sohn has said the liberals would welcome the progressives, hard-line politicians have balked.

By Ser Myo-ja []
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