Moon vows bottom-up nominations amid chaos

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Moon vows bottom-up nominations amid chaos

The chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) said he will abandon his right to nominate proportional representatives, vowing to adopt a bottom-up nomination system, in an attempt to take responsibility for the defection of the party’s co-founder.

Moon Jae-in, the leader of Korea’s main opposition party, said on Wednesday that he will give up his right as chairman to name 20 percent of the lawmakers determined by the proportion of votes cast for the party.

“I will accomplish a bottom-up nomination system,” Moon said at the party’s Supreme Council, implying that the candidates for the next general election in April will be selected via primaries.

Moon’s aides expect that more than 50 percent of incumbent lawmakers could be replaced by political rookies under the new nomination system, which would grant 10 additional percentage points to fledgling candidates.

In line with the party’s attempt to revise the nomination system, the NPAD introduced an online enrollment system to expand its support from young people. The system allows supporters to join the party as a member in just five minutes online, either via their smartphones or personal computers.

One party official said the number of new members exceeded 6,000 in the first day.

“The main opposition party has disappointed the people,” Moon said. “I feel ashamed and regret this as the leader of the main opposition party.”

In his first official remarks, three days after NPAD co-founder Ahn Cheol-soo announced his defection, the chairman appeared desperate, acknowledging a split in the party and asserting that he would “risk life or death” for the party’s reinvention.

“I will not allow a power struggle in the party or disputes over the nomination system. I will carry out an endless reinvention and will not succumb to any demands,” he said.

Moon went on to label the Park Geun-hye government as a “neo-dictatorship” and urged NPAD lawmakers to unite so as not to commit the “historical sin” of extending the reign of the conservative government in the next presidential election.

He underscored that the party would establish a fair nomination system devised by its reform committee, launched after embarrassing defeats in April’s by-elections.

At a senior lawmakers’ meeting, NPAD Rep. Jun Byung-hun said Ahn’s defection from the party had turned out to be a windfall for the ruling Saenuri Party, referring to a survey earlier this week that showed the NPAD’s approval ratings plunging. He further urged lawmakers to stop finger pointing and refrain from dropping out of the party.

Ahn deserted the NPAD on Sunday after negotiations with Moon over the election of a new party leader failed, and as of Wednesday, it was still difficult to gauge whether he would be able to form a formidable new political group.

The same day, Rep. Moon Byung-ho, an NPAD lawmaker and Ahn’s former chief of staff, stated that he and fellow Reps. Hwang Ju-hong and You Sung-yop had come to the conclusion that the NPAD could not offer a new political vision and would thereby leave the party. He added that the three had planned a press conference for this morning to announce their defection from the party.

“I don’t think [Moon] has the willingness to listen to differing opinions,” NPAD lawmaker Choi Won-sik, one of Moon’s critics, said on Wednesday. “I don’t think he knows the meaning of cooperation.”

BY KIM SO-HEE, LEE JI-SANG [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]

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