Freshman rep proposes dismantling ruling GNP

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Freshman rep proposes dismantling ruling GNP

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In response to the voters’ fatigue with conventional party politics, the liberal opposition parties are trying to merge.

Now there is a call for a radical overhaul of the ruling Grand National Party too.

A first-term GNP lawmaker said yesterday the conservative party with a 14-year history should be dismantled to form a new party based on centrist, reformist principles.

Representative Kwon Young-jin made the proposal on the cable news network YTN yesterday.

After the party’s defeat in the Oct. 26 Seoul mayoral by-election, GNP reformists have said the party needs fresh faces, and they’ve urged veteran politicians to stay out of next April’s general election.

Kwon is the first GNP lawmaker to argue that the party should break up and regroup. “The GNP should choose the path of a new political party to prepare for a new era and to win new voters,” Kwon said. “We need people who can serve that purpose. Those who obstruct the path must step aside.” He also said it was insufficient for the GNP to merely reform its process of choosing candidates for elections.

Kwon is a member of Minbon 21, a group of first-term GNP lawmakers. An aide to Kwon said the lawmaker will raise the issue at a meeting of the group on Sunday. His idea won some immediate support. “The current GNP will have a hard time winning the next presidential election,” said Representative Won Hee-ryong, a member of the GNP Supreme Council. “Whether it’s Ahn Cheol-soo or Park Se-il, I believe it is necessary to have a new party to unite all the centrists and the conservatives.”

Ahn is a software mogul and a rising liberal political star. Park is a former GNP lawmaker who once headed the ruling party’s Yeouido Institute think tank. Park is working to launch a new political party, tentatively named K-party, by next February with an aim to contest the April legislative election. Some GNP members are hoping that the party could attract the support of popular figures like Ahn and Park.

Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo also argued that older members of the GNP must give up their established rights. “For us to invite Ahn, Park Geun-hye must give up her established rights,” Kim said. The former GNP chairwoman has long been the presidential frontrunner, but her position was challenged recently by Ahn’s meteoric rise.

It remains to be seen how a new political party could be established, but political analysts said a group of lawmakers would likely leave the party first and create a new party with outside forces and absorb the GNP.

Ahn has been a brutal critic of the GNP. Making clear his animus toward the ruling party, Ahn said in a media interview in September that he wanted to stop its further political expansion in Korean society.


By Ser Myo-ja, Jung Hyo-sik [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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