DP discards party nominations for local elections

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DP discards party nominations for local elections

The main opposition Democratic Party declared yesterday that it will eliminate the nomination system for local government heads. Under the new party system, no one running for local government office - would-be district office chiefs, county heads or city mayors - will get an official DP endorsement in the upcoming regional elections slated for June 4 next year.

The DP’s decision was the result of the passage of a resolution on the issue in a party vote yesterday. Of 76,370 party members who voted, 51,729, or 67.7 percent, voted in favor of the reform measure, while 24,641, or 32.3 percent, objected to it.

“It was the first time ever in Korean politics that party members voted to decide on a major policy direction for the party,” party Chairman Kim Han-gill said yesterday, after announcing the results.

“It will be remembered as a great leap in the growth of party-based democracy.”

Kim pledged to abolish the nomination system in his bid for party leadership, as did Moon Jae-in during his unsuccessful bid for presidency last year.

In its campaign pushing the reform, the DP claimed local governance has been negatively affected by politicking due to local heads being affiliated with political parties. The DP also cited its determination to end its vested interest in local politics.

The DP is now set to begin talks with the ruling Saenuri Party to revise election law in order to realize the reform plan.

In order for party nominations in local politics to be eliminated before the regional elections next year, the National Assembly must amend national election law prior to the election.

“We will hold talks with the Saenuri Party to discuss reforming election law during the National Assembly’s general assembly in September,” said Min Byung-doo of the DP.

The rival Saenuri Party said it was open to the reform.

“We welcome the DP’s decision to end party nominations for local offices and will strive to strengthen grassroots democracy,” said Saenuri Party Spokeswoman Min Hyun-joo.

But it remains to be seen if the two major parties can agree on such a major issue with less than a year to go before the regional elections. Some Saenuri Party members have already voiced their skepticism.

“It will be far-fetched to argue for the elimination of nominations when it’s not yet clear whether the reform is well-intentioned or just bad judgment,” said the Saenuri Party’s Yoo Ki-june.

BY CHAE BYUNG-GUN AND KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]
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