Expectations of leadership
Three-term lawmaker Woo Yoon-keun was elected new floor leader of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) yesterday. People have high expectations that he will successfully lead the embattled party.
He must put first priority on overcoming the repercussions from the persistent conflict between ruling Saenuri Party floor leader Lee Wan-koo and the NPAD’s former floor leader Park Young-sun in the course of negotiating the special Sewol law, and then help get the National Assembly back on track. Even though both parties managed to make a last-minute breakthrough in regards to the special law by agreeing to legislation within this month, there remain a few gaps in the details: how to compensate the Sewol victims and how to define the role and power of a special committee charged with the investigation of the massive disaster. In addition, floor leader Woo has to deal with a number of pending bills, including a government reorganization bill, next year’s budget and other economy-related bills.
It is undisputable that the opposition has played a big part in causing a public uproar over missing the chance to work on economic recovery due to its stubbornness over the Sewol law. That calls for more mature leadership from the new floor leader. We expect him to demonstrate courage and wisdom as a reliable partner to Saenuri counterpart, Lee Wan-koo, rather than stick to his party’s interests.
Internally, the new floor leader must manage the conflicts among various factions in the NPAD so that the inner discord doesn’t go to extremes. He has been classified as one of moderate followers of former President Roh Moo-hyun since being elected in 2004 as a lawmaker of the Uri Party, then led by President Roh. Worries are growing in the NPAD, as the party is dominated by the pro-Roh group, which includes Moon Hee-sang, chairman of the emergency committee, and Chung Sye-kyun, a member of the committee.
Yesterday’s primary to elect the new floor leader proved those divisions. The new floor leader defeated Lee Jong-kul, the single candidate representing the anti-Roh group and those with no affiliation with Roh, in a runoff by winning 64 votes, 11 votes more than Lee’s. In the first round, however, the new floor leader received one vote less than Lee. Party insiders attribute the final election result to party members’ inclination to keep the pro-Roh group in check. After the floor leader vowed not to be swayed by any particular faction, we look forward to him following through on that promise.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 10, Page 34