DP, Roh loyalists agree on merger roadmap
Representative Sohn Hak-kyu, chairman of the Democratic Party, and loyalists of former President Roh Moo-hyun approved a roadmap for the creation of a new liberal party yesterday, taking one step closer toward sealing a grand merger of the nation’s various liberal factions in the run-up to next year’s elections.
In an emergency meeting yesterday, leaders of the DP and Innovation and Integration, the organization established by Roh loyalists that has played a key role in brokering the merger, agreed to a consolidation plan that included the rules for electing the new party’s leadership.
Innovation and Integration, meanwhile, launched the Civil Unity Party yesterday to facilitate a party-to-party merger with the DP.
The ambitious political experiment, however, produced another splinter faction. Representative Park Jie-won, former DP floor leader, bid farewell to Sohn yesterday after the chairman negotiated the leadership election rules for the proposed merged party without his consent.
In a statement yesterday, Park criticized Sohn for secretly negotiating with Innovation and Integration behind closed doors while giving up on the DP’s identity, putting the future of the merger in jeopardy.
Earlier yesterday, Sohn and Representative Chung Sye-kyun attended the final negotiations with Innovation and Integration, which was represented by Moon Jae-in, Lee Hae-chan, Moon Sung-keun and Lee Yong-sun, where they agreed on the leadership election rules: votes from delegates, in equal numbers from the Democratic Party and the Civil Unity Party, will count for 30 percent, while 70 percent of the votes will come from party members and the public.
The leadership of the proposed party will consist of 11 members, six of whom will be elected. The party chairman will appoint three members, while two seats are automatically reserved for key party officials. The two parties also said they would name the proposed new party later after collecting public opinion. The new party, however, will still have “Democratic Party” somewhere in its name.
In addition, nominations for the April legislative elections will be made through an open primary.
To wrap up the proposed merger, the two sides said they would form a committee made up of seven representatives from each party and two representatives from the Federation of Korean Trade Unions.
“The most significant part of our agreement today was that existing political stakes were completely left out in creating the new leadership and nomination rules,” Representative Lee Yong-sup, DP spokesman, said, adding that the two sides had made history in Korean party politics.
Older DP members, including Park, made clear their unhappiness with the roadmap, saying that the agreement undermined the DP’s legitimacy and identity and that the DP could be absorbed by Roh loyalists.
It remained to be seen whether DP members would endorse a merger plan rejected by Park. On Sunday, the DP will have a national party convention to vote on the merger roadmap. To approve it, at least 6,000 of the 12,000 delegates must turn up and vote. Bringing Park, a political heavyweight with strong ties to the DP strongholds of North and South Jeolla, over Sohn would be a crucial boost in pushing forward with the grand liberal merger.
By Ser Myo-ja [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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