DUP to elect new floor leader today

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DUP to elect new floor leader today


From left, Park Jie-won, Lee Nak-yon, Jun Byung-hun, and Yoo Ihn-tae, four candidates for the floor leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party, wait for a joint-discussion session yesterday in the National Assembly Library. [NEWSIS]

The largest opposition party will elect its new floor leader today, amid continuing internal protests against the backroom, power-split pact by political heavyweights of the party’s two main factions.

The new floor leader of the Democratic United Party will be elected by its 127 lawmakers-elect, who will start their term on May 30. Four candidates have campaigned for the powerful position to represent the largest liberal opposition party in key negotiations against the ruling party and oversee the party’s chairmanship election next month.

Representative Park Jie-won, a key Kim Dae-jung loyalist, was the frontrunner in the race, while three candidates Lee Nak-yon, Jun Byung-hun and Yoo Ihn-tae followed.

The winner requires a majority of 64 or more votes. If no one wins the majority, a final match between top two contenders will take place to decide the winner.

After reports that Moon Jae-in, former chief of staff for Roh Moo-hyun and the presidential frontrunner of the party, Lee Hae-chan, former prime minister of the Roh government, and Park, former chief of staff of the Kim Dae-jung Blue House, reached a deal on the formation of the new leadership of the party, criticism rose over the return of political wheeling and dealing.

According to the deal, they agreed that the Roh faction will support Park in the May 4 floor leader election, while the Kim faction will support Lee as the chairman at the June 9 leadership election of the DUP.

They said the move to mend the rupture between the two factions would be crucial for the party to win the presidential election.

However, it remains to be seen if the scenario will hold up. After the report, three candidates of the floor leader race were united against Park, and other reformists also joined the criticism against the deal. The election may not be easy if Park fails to win the majority in the first round and will face a final contest.

On the eve of the election, 21 lawmakers-elect who will start their first term with the next National Assembly issued a statement to criticize the power-split pact. Of the 127 newly elected lawmakers, 56 will be first-term representatives, and the position of the 21 lawmakers could be a significant factor.

“No matter who will be elected as the floor leader and the chairman, the procedure should be democratic,” they said in a statement. “We believe the floor leader election will serve as an opportunity for the party to reform.”

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