People’s Party moves to name first floor leader

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People’s Party moves to name first floor leader

The newly established political party of independent Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo said on Wednesday that it will name its floor leader today, in a clear attempt to secure its role as a casting vote in the legislature.

The People’s Party currently has 15 lawmakers including the former software mogul. It held its first general assembly on Wednesday, when it decided to name a floor leader without the need for a primary.

The ultimate goal of the party - which Ahn organized after departing from the main opposition in December - is to recruit more lawmakers so that it may form a negotiation bloc within the National Assembly.

If the group manages to recruit 20 or more lawmakers, it would be entitled to negotiation power in the legislature and can receive state subsidies. If the party manages to form a negotiation bloc by Feb. 15, it will receive 8.8 billion won ($7.24 million) in subsidies ahead of April’s general election.

A third negotiation bloc would also bring about major changes in the legislature, which is sharply split between two main parties. The ruling Saenuri Party currently commands 156 seats, while the main opposition Minjoo Party holds 111 in the 300-seat National Assembly.

The People’s Party said that its new floor leader and other key negotiators would be decided at its meeting tonight. Its new floor leader, officials added, would immediately participate in negotiations regarding contentious bills deadlocked in the legislature.

Rep. Joo Seong-yong, who represents Yeosu B, and Rep. Moon Byung-ho, representing Bupyeong A in Incheon, are considered to be the primary contenders.

The 15 lawmakers will discuss today the party’s official stance on a series of bills currently deadlocked in the National Assembly, including the anti-terrorism bill and North Korea human rights bill. The party is positively considering both bills, which liberal lawmakers have long opposed.

It is also positively considering supporting a contentious economic bill to establish a special law designed to reduce legal procedures required by existing laws and provide tax cuts in cases in which businesses are voluntarily sold off or purchased. Often referred to as the “One-Shot Act,” it covers mergers and acquisitions for companies and industry sectors in crisis due to oversupply.

“It will allow conglomerates to overcome the current economic crisis through restructuring,” said Rep. Jang Byung-wan, who served as the budget minister under the Roh Moo-hyun government. “We can add some restrictions to prevent anticipated ill effects.”

The party, however, has similar positions to the Minjoo Party on other contentious bills concerning the service industry and labor market reform. “We won’t link the passage of one bill to another,” said Rep. Joo, criticizing lawmakers’ long-led tradition of political bargaining. “We will approach [these bills] from the perspectives of the people.”

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