DUP: What do we really stand for?

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DUP: What do we really stand for?

An identity crisis flared inside the largest opposition party yesterday as it unveiled proposed changes to its platform that are deemed ?too far to the right for the party’s liberal footing.

The Democratic United Party yesterday held ?talks to review its plan to revise the party’s platform. Following its bitter presidential defeat to the conservative Saenuri Party last year, the DUP has worked to ?redefine itself.

The party will have a national convention on May 4 to elect its new leadership and endorse the proposed changes. The purpose of yesterday’s discussion was to collect Democrats’ opinions on the planned revisions.

Major changes were seen in the party’s more conservative approaches toward North Korea, the free trade agreement with the United States and welfare promises.

According to the draft of the changes, the platform will call ?North Korea’s nuclear tests a security threat. It will also state that the party will put forth efforts to improve the human rights situation in the North. Also, the party will work to establish peace on the peninsula based on strong national security, the revision said.

The largest liberal party has been criticized by the nation’s conservatives for having failed to address human rights abuses in the North. The DUP protested the National Assembly’s efforts to establish the North Korea human rights act for nearly 10 years.

“Even the leftists are talking about the human rights situation in the North,” a lawmaker who worked on the draft told the JoongAng Ilbo earlier this month. “Korea is a human rights advocate, and it is hard for the largest opposition party to turn a blind eye to North Korea’s rights abuses.”

According to the proposed revision, the party will push forward a balanced diplomacy while seeking a future-oriented development of the Korea-U.S. alliance.

On the issue of economy and welfare, the DUP would remove its pledge to renegotiate the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement from the platform. Instead, the revised platform will say the party will make national interests the top priority in all trade policies, including free trade agreements.

The DUP also planned to change its goal of building a welfare-strong nation by providing universal welfare benefits to a goal of promoting growth in line with offering welfare programs.

The current party platform says the DUP upholds the public sentiment expressed through the candlelight protests against the Lee Myung-bak administration, but that part would be deleted. Instead, the platform will say that the DUP will uphold the achievements of the past liberal governments while looking back on their shortcomings.

In the current platform, the DUP identified itself as a political party for 99 percent of the people, including the working class and the middle class, but the revision draft showed that the party will be identified as a political party serving the public, mainly the working class and middle class population.

Not all Democrats, however, were supportive of the proposed changes.

“I cannot agree with the view that the DUP lost the presidential election because of its progressive policies,” said Representative Woo Sang-ho. “Why are we watering down the policies desperately needed by our main supporters, while adding the parts that are attractive to the political independents?”

Representative Jin Sung-joon also said it was inappropriate for the draft to remove all key policies of the DUP such as free medical care and free child care.

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

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