Ahn holds first convention for People’s Party

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Ahn holds first convention for People’s Party

Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, a political maverick who left the main opposition party, held the first convention for his new party on Sunday afternoon, kicking off the month-long journey to its formal establishment on Feb. 2.

The People’s Party, a provisional English name for the party, vowed at its first convention to end the bipartisan system and win the next presidential election in 2017.

“We declare the end of the outdated and incapable bipartisan system,” the party said in a founding declaration statement. “We will be flexible in ideology and put rational reform at the center of politics as we create balance between conservatism and liberalism.”

The party said it will seek the coexistence of labor and management, the co-development of big conglomerates and small and midsize companies, and to settle the divide between permanent and temporary workers.

On Sunday, 1,978 politicians enrolled as founding members of the People’s Party, including seven incumbent lawmakers who had left the Minjoo Party of Korea - Rep. Ahn, Kim Han-gill, Kim Dong-cheol, Moon Byeong-ho, You Sung-yop, Lim Nae-hyun and Hwang Ju-hong. Three lawmakers who had defected from the main opposition party recently - Choi Jae-cheon, Kim Young-hwan and Kwon Eun-hee - were not on the list.

The party appointed Han Sang-jin, a professor emeritus at Seoul National University, and Yoon Yeo-joon, a former environment minister, as co-chairmen of a committee that will prepare for the party’s establishment next month.

“The People’s Party will change politics at the eye level of the people, and I will firmly resist any attempts that go against political reform,” Ahn, the 53-year-old software tycoon-turned politician, told reporters after the convention.

In the latest attempt to amass political power, Ahn paid a visit to Lee Hee-ho, the widow of the late President Kim Dae-jung, to mark the new year last week. During their talk, she expressed her support for Ahn, the JoongAng Ilbo reported on Wednesday, quoting an associate who was present.

Ahn ran for the presidency in 2012, competing against Moon Jae-in, the current chairman of the main opposition Minjoo Party, for liberal votes.

However, Moon continually outmaneuvered him, and Ahn bitterly dropped out of the race a month before the election. Ahn was elected as lawmaker in 2013 after a victory in the by-elections, in which he ran as an independent, and later co-founded the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), the predecessor to the Minjoo Party.

After months stuck in a power struggle with Moon, Ahn left the NPAD in December and announced his plan to form his own political group, and nine lawmakers have followed suit with Ahn so far.

BY LEE JI-SANG [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]
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