DUP hardliners sniff out moderates

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DUP hardliners sniff out moderates

As the nomination review picks up speed in the Democratic United Party, technocrats-turned-lawmakers, including floor leader Kim Jin-pyo, face a possible purge as hardliners label them as being “not liberal enough.”

A group of moderate lawmakers who negotiated with the ruling party over the ratification of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement appeared to be targets for removal as speculation grew that they won’t be given the nomination in the April 11 legislative elections.

After the nomination review committee of the party announced its decision to weigh “identity” more heavily during the nomination process, Representatives Kim, Kang Bong-kyun, Kim Sung-gon and Choi In-kee were named frequently as possible drop-outs for their relatively conservative standings.

The Korean Alliance Against the Korea-U.S. FTA, a coalition of civic groups, also said recently that lawmakers who had voted for the ratification of the agreement should not be given an opportunity to seek reelection.

Six DUP lawmakers including Kim Jin-pyo were placed on the blacklist of 151 representatives.

Speculations about the centrist lawmakers’ purge reached a new peak when the Kyunghyang Shinmun reported on Monday that the nomination review committee had asked the DUP leadership to pressure Kim to not seek reelection. It also said lawmakers with relatively softer standings on the FTA and conglomerate reform issues are expected to be ruled out from the nomination.

Representative Baek Won-woo of the nomination review committee held a press conference yesterday to deny that the moderate lawmakers were facing the risk of being removed from the party, but it didn’t quiet the situation.

The lawmakers whose liberal identity was questioned raised their voices yesterday to defend their positions.

“If they will rule us out, it means about 30 incumbent [centrist] lawmakers won’t be given nominations,” an aide to Kim said. “We know for sure who will gain from it.”

Other senior members of the DUP also defended the moderate lawmakers.

“Some members of the nomination committee appeared to talk about ruling out Kim, but that is an act of self-denial as a political group,” said Kim Boo-kyum, a Supreme Council member of the DUP, in his interview with PBC radio yesterday. “A political party can represent a variety of voices.”

He also said other party members are all equally guilty of the identity debate if Kim was attacked for having supported the FTA during the Roh Moo-hyun administration and supported the ratification of the deal.

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

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