10 GNP reps want party dismantled

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10 GNP reps want party dismantled

Claiming that the ruling Grand National Party is headed to oblivion, a group of its lawmakers delivered an ultimatum yesterday saying the party should be dissolved and regroup into a new party.

Ten lawmakers representing strategic capital districts issued a press release after a meeting yesterday to discuss the fate of the GNP. Second-term lawmakers Chun Yu-ok and Cha Myeong-jin and seven first-term lawmakers joined the move. Representative Won Hee-ryong, a three-term lawmaker and a member of the party’s Supreme Council, sent an aide to show his support.

The lawmakers’ ultimatum showed the disarray in the GNP in the aftermath of its Oct. 26 defeat in the by-election for Seoul mayor. GNP lawmakers and party chapter heads held a 10-hour discussion on Nov. 29 and maintained Chairman Hong Joon-pyo as the party’s leader, but the internal dissatisfaction toward the leadership is obviously boiling.

The ruling party’s sense of crisis deepened last week when police arrested one of its lawmaker’s aides for an alleged cyberattack on the National Election Commission’s Web site the day of the by-election, presumably to confuse young voters as to where their polling stations were. Young voters were known to favor the successful opposition candidate in the race, Park Won-soon. The opposition charges that the party itself was responsible for the attack, which the GNP denies.

According to the statement yesterday, the lawmakers said the GNP is in dire straits that its leadership fails to grasp.

“We agree that the party should be dismantled, give up all its established rights and create a new party,” they said. “We demand the leadership present a detailed plan to realize our recommendation as soon as the National Assembly ends its session on Friday,” the lawmakers said. “If an effective plan that can be implemented immediately is not presented, we will take action with other lawmakers who share our intention.” Other members of the Supreme Council also showed concerns yesterday.

Representative Won, a member of the Supreme Council, said the situation is so grave that the resignation of the leadership won’t be enough to resolve the crisis. Representative Nam Kyung-pil said he was worried about Chairman Hong’s grasp on reality.

It is also not the first time that the GNP has faced a demand for a radical overhaul. Representative Kwon Young-jin, a first-term lawmaker, said on Nov. 26 that the conservative party with a 14-year history should break up to form a new party based on centrist, reformist principles.

Another senior member of the GNP, Representative Chung Doo-un, a former member of the Supreme Council and the head of the party’s Yeouido Institute think tank, also expressed his frustration.
In a message posted on Twitter, Chung deplored the GNP free fall. “There is no better expression to describe the GNP than a plumetting bird with no wings,” he wrote. “Amidst this crisis, the leadership and the leader are not even budging, and I am running out of energy to talk any more.”

He told reporters on Monday that the GNP appeared to be dying. Asked if lawmakers are thinking of leaving the party to create a new one, Chung said, “I think there are quite a lot.”

It remains to be seen how Representative Park Geun-hye, former chairwoman of the party and its presidential front-runner, will react to the mounting demands for change. If Hong resigns as chairman, she will inevitably take on a greater role, and her loyalists have been reluctant to support the idea because Park would be exposed to greater scrutiny ahead of the December 2012 presidential election.

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