Saenuri presses UPP on vote-rigging

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Saenuri presses UPP on vote-rigging

As the main opposition Democratic United Party ratchets up its attack on the troubled nominee to the Constitutional Court’s chief justice, the ruling Saenuri Party brought up the issue of the Unified Progressive Party’s primary-rigging scandal and once again pressured the two controversial members to step down.

Lee Hahn-koo, the floor leader of the ruling party, said at a meeting with the party’s supreme councilors yesterday that “during negotiations before starting the 19th National Assembly, the DUP promised to penalize lawmakers Lee Seok-gi and Kim Jae-yeon. Keeping this promise will become an important measure for the DUP to prove its political identity.”

The UPP, the nation’s fourth-largest party, has been embroiled in the nationwide primary-rigging scandal that the prosecution later confirmed was led by the hardcore, largest faction.

All of the candidates who won in the manipulated primary stepped down, except the two members who later won parliamentary seats in the April legislative elections - Lee and Kim.

Despite mounting public criticism, the two UPP lawmakers refused to forfeit their seats and claimed that all allegations surrounding the scandal are political attacks against them.

Protesting Lee and Kim’s stubborn resistance, members defected from the party en masse, leading to a split in the end.

The vote-rigging incident also had repercussions for the main opposition DUP, which formed an alliance with the UPP during the April race.

Although the DUP denounced the minor opposition party’s manipulation, the ruling party has demanded the DUP show a clear position on the matter, pushing Lee and Kim to resign.

The demand from Saenuri to punish the two lawmakers comes in the midst of rising criticism against the Constitutional Court’s chief justice nominee, Lee Dong-heub, raising the assumption that the ruling party is using the UPP scandal as a bargaining chip in a political fight against the opposition.


By Ryu Jung-hwa, Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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