Saenuri Party will keep its nomination systemThe ruling Saenuri Party yesterday reneged on its pledge to end the party’s 20-year nomination right by passing a motion during the party’s national committee meeting to embrace a bottom-up nomination system for the local elections.
The motion for the party regulations, passed during a party meeting at Times Square Plaza in Yeongdeungpo, western Seoul, also allows the Saenuri to hold an open primary in which citizens with no registered party affiliation can vote to determine election contenders.
With the motion, the Saenuri also made it possible for party officials to appoint specific candidates to boost their chances of winning strategically important constituencies.
The decision by the ruling party yesterday puts an end to a 2012 election campaign pledge advocated by both the Saenuri and Democratic Party to eliminate long-held nomination rights for those seeking elected positions in municipal offices.
Under the bipartisan pledge, those running for city mayor, county appointments or city council seats would hold no party affiliation in local elections.
The rival parties at the time agreed to scrap the nomination system because of public suspicion that nominations for local government offices were often sold to high-ranking party officials and sitting lawmakers.
Strong political regionalism also added to the public suspicion that corruption was rampant in local elections. After backtracking on its pledge, the ruling party claimed that scrapping the nomination system would result in candidacies being filled by unqualified contenders, undermining the basic responsibility of the party.
Political observers expect the main opposition Democratic Party to follow in the footsteps of the ruling party this week. Party insiders estimate about 10,000 DP members who are gearing up to run in the June 4 local elections will abandon the party and run as independents should the party choose to scrap any sort of nomination system.
It is expected that DP Chairman Kim Han-gill will formally announce the withdrawal of the pledge sometime this week.
BY KANG JIN-KYU [firstname.lastname@example.org]