Liberals come together for upcoming elections

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Liberals come together for upcoming elections


Lee Jung-hee, Sim Sang-jeong and Roh Hoe-chan

The liberal opposition parties yesterday announced the outcome of their joint primaries, consolidating their candidates in an alliance against the ruling party in the April 11 legislative elections.

The Democratic United, Unified Progressive and New Progressive parties jointly held primaries over the weekend at 78 constituencies nationwide to consolidate their candidates. According to the primary management committee, the Democrats won primaries in 57 constituencies, while the Unified Progressive Party managed to field candidates in 11 districts. The New Progressive Party won one constituency.

According to the committee, the outcome of the primary in the Euwang-Gwacheon constituency was being reviewed, while eight constituencies were still undecided. Of the primaries, the DUP did not field candidates in 27 races.

There were almost no surprises as highly popular candidates won the primaries. From the DUP, 14 incumbent lawmakers and 14 former lawmakers won the primaries against their more progressive rivals.

Representative Chung Sye-kyun, former chairman of the largest opposition party, won the primary in Jongno District of central Seoul to match up against the ruling Saenuri Party’s Hong Sa-duk, a six-term lawmaker and a key Park Geun-hye aide.

Representative Chung Dong-young, another former chairman of the party, won the primary in Gangnam B District in southern Seoul. Chung, an active advocate against the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, will face Kim Jong-hoon of the Saenuri Party, a former trade minister who led negotiations of key FTAs, including the deal with the United States.

In Jae-geun, wife of the late liberal icon Kim Geun-tae, won the primary in Dobong A District of northern Seoul, as the DUP largely supported her campaign to make her another political symbol against the conservatives.

Political celebrities of the Unified Progressive Party also won their primaries.

Representative Lee Jung-hee, a co-chairwoman of the UPP, won the primary against DUP Representative Kim Hee-chull in Gwanak B District in southern Seoul, his current constituency. Kim, however, fiercely protested the outcome, saying he cannot accept defeat. “I will consult with party members and declare my position tomorrow,” he said yesterday.

Sim Sang-jeong, another UPP co-chairwoman, won the primary in Goyang-Deokyang A of Gyeonggi. The party’s spokesmen also won their primaries. Roh Hoe-chan will represent northern Seoul’s Nowon C District as the liberal unified candidate, while Cheon Ho-seon will represent Eunpyeong B District in western Seoul.

Nam A District of Ulsan, saw perhaps the only surprise defeat of an incumbent lawmaker. Representative Cho Seung-soo of the UPP was defeated by the DUP’s Shim Gyu-myeong.

New Progressive Party candidate Kim Han-ju won the primary in Geoje, South Gyeongsang, earning the splinter party’s only victory.

The liberals were sanguine about the outlook of their alliance, as the primaries were concluded and candidates were consolidated to face their rivals from the conservative ruling party. The parties intended to consolidate their candidates in order to heighten their chances by uniting liberal votes in the elections.

“We will respect the people’s order to unite together to judge the Lee Myung-bak administration and the Saenuri Party,” DUP Chairwoman Han Myeong-sook said. “The people and history will remember the candidates who made concessions and sacrifices.”

She also said the liberal alliance will open a new era of hope and change for the people, and other leaders of the DUP vowed to achieve a legislative election victory through the alliance.

The Unified Progressive Party also made public its ambition to become a negotiating party on its own for the first time in the legislature. Under the National Assembly Act’s Article 33, any political party having 20 or more lawmakers shall organize a negotiating party. The UPP currently has seven lawmakers.

In an interview on CBS radio, UPP Co-Chairwoman Sim said she has high expectations that the party will become a negotiating party. She said the party aims to win at least 25 seats inside the National Assembly, including proportional representatives.

By Ser Myo-ja []
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