UPP loses large portion of members

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UPP loses large portion of members

Roughly 20,000 members of the opposition Unified Progressive Party have defected from the party.

Of the total 130,000 members, roughly 75,000 of them are so-called “true members,” who pay monthly membership dues and have the right to vote in a primary.

Under the current rule of the UPP, a citizen who pays membership dues ? from 5,000 won ($4.20) to 10,000 won based on income ? can become a “true member.”
However, interim leader Kang Ki-kab has recently found that the number of “true members” has dropped to some 56,000 when he was checking the roster ahead of the leadership election scheduled for the end of this month.

“Some members left the party because they were disappointed [by the primary-rigging scandal],” Lee Jeong-mi, spokeswoman of Kang’s emergency council, told reporters. “Others automatically lost their party membership [because they didn’t pay the membership dues].”

However, Representative Roh Hoe-chan, an outsider of the party’s largest faction, raised the suspicion that the 20,000 defectors were “hired” by the main faction members.

“They intentionally joined the party to participate in the proportional primary and paid dues for only a month,” Roh said in an interview with local media. “It means that they were ‘hired’ for the election.”

The majority of the party membership roster has been made up of members from the largest faction, the pro-North Gyeonggi Dongbu Alliance.

Still, after Kang’s emergency council led to a smaller factional grip on power, he and the council said they found that there were a bunch of “temporary party members.”

Previously, former co-chair Rhyu Si-min publicly said that “the problem is that the list of party members [who cast ballots in the primary] isn’t reliable.”
In the March primary, about 40,000 party members cast their ballots, more than half of the dues-paying members. Now, Kang suspects that most of the 20,000 defectors would have voted in the primary, having a huge impact on the turnout.

Lee Seok-gi, known as the largest faction’s de facto leader, earned the most votes in the primary, defeating other candidates by a large margin, and became a lawmaker-elect in the April 11 general election.

By Ryu Jung-hwa [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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