War between Saenuri, Blue House rages on

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War between Saenuri, Blue House rages on

Conflict between the Blue House and Saenuri floor leader Yoo Seong-min deepened over the weekend with ruling party lawmakers loyal to President Park Geun-hye collecting signatures to demand Yoo’s resignation.

Park and her loyalists blame Yoo for a deal with the opposition that forced the president to veto a revision of the National Assembly Act that had been supported by her own party.

Yoo apologized to the president, but has rejected all suggestions that he quit.

Saenuri Rep. Kim Tae-heum, a Park loyalist, said in an interview with Nocut News on Sunday that it would be irresponsible for Yoo to keep his job considering the clear message from the presidential office to resign.

“If he does not quit his job, we have no choice but to force the resignations of all party leadership members,” warned the lawmaker.

The pro-Park group within the Saenuri collected signatures from fellow lawmakers who are calling for Yoo’s resignation to take responsibility for the failed bipartisan deal that forced Park’s veto. It is also demanding a party lawmakers’ meeting to be held.

It is expected that with the list of signatures, Saenuri leadership members who belong to the Pro-Park wing will renew their demand for Yoo’s ouster from the No. 2 position during the Saenuri’s leadership meeting today.

Park harshly criticized Yoo for his bipartisan deal with the opposition for a revised parliamentary act during a cabinet meeting last Thursday. Calling the bipartisan deal unconstitutional and sending it back to the Assembly with her veto authority, Park criticized the entire legislature for being stuck “in old-time politicking.”

A stone-faced Park added the changes to the law would have caused a national crisis and, in a direct jab at Yoo, questioned whether the Saenuri’s floor leadership helped the government in managing state affairs and improving the economy.

Park dubbed Yoo’s negotiations with the New Politics Alliance for Democracy “politics of betrayal.” But that has raised criticism that Park’s attitude is rooted in politics of decades ago when loyalty from the ruling party to the Blue House was demanded and taken for granted. The fact that Park spent her adolescent years in the Blue House and acted as first lady after her mother was assassinated in 1974 has caused many to say her governing style was heavily influenced by that of her strongman father Park Chung Hee.

“The President is making the ongoing situation as an open conflict [between the ruling party and her office] while it could be resolved through political consultations,” said Kim Jong-cheol, a professor of law at Yonsei University in an interview with the JoongAng Sunday.

Critics also point out that while cooperation between the presidential office and the ruling party is needed, it is also the responsibility of the National Assembly to keep the administration in check.

The vetoed bill, which the Saenuri Party decided to abandon after Park’s veto, would have strengthened lawmakers’ authority to request changes in administrative legislation.

The ruling party supported the bill in order to secure the passage of another piece of legislation to overhaul the money-losing civil service pension system, a key project of the president.

While Yoo tried to assuage President Park’s rage by offering what was seen as a deeply felt apology, Park has not budged in her drive to push him out, which forces ruling party lawmakers to choose between Yoo and Park.

“While the demand [from the Blue House] is out of line and lacking in reason, the problem is whether we can manage the party with severed relations with the president at the midpoint of her presidency,” said a ruling party lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr ]

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