Saenuri sings ‘sorry’ as part of new campaign

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Saenuri sings ‘sorry’ as part of new campaign

The ruling party has decided to adopt a penitent campaign theme with less than a week before the general election.

The Saenuri Party held an emergency strategy meeting at 8 p.m. on Wednesday and decided to change the concept of its campaign for the April 13 general election. Chairman Kim Moo-sung hosted the meeting and top officials and campaign managers attended.

According to participants, the new theme will be “self-reflection.” Top politicians who are heading the campaign in major cities and provinces agreed to the change, the sources said.

The decision was based on the party’s internal assessment that it may not win the majority - 150 seats in the 300-member legislature - in the upcoming election. The sense of crisis is particularly high in Daegu, the traditional Saenuri stronghold and political hometown of President Park Geun-hye, as various opinion polls showed that its candidates are in neck-and-neck races or falling behind in six out of 12 districts in the city.

“There are concerns that our traditional supporters will give up voting, because they no longer want to vote for us but they also don’t want to vote for the opposition,” a Saenuri official said.

Early voting for the Wednesday’s election takes place today and tomorrow.

Participants at the strategy meeting agreed that voters have showed the ruling party more support over the past few days after it apologized for recent infighting over the candidate nomination process. The integrity of the party’s nomination process, controlled by Lee Han-koo, a key Park ally, came under heavy criticism with Kim refusing to endorse some of the candidates. The feud exposed deep cracks in the ruling party’s constitution over the past weeks.

Kim continued to apologize to the voters on Thursday.

“During the nomination process, we failed and disappointed the people,” he said in a meeting in the morning. “It is entirely our fault, but if the Saenuri Party loses the majority and the National Assembly becomes dominated by opposition lawmakers who were former student activists then state affairs will enter a crisis. The 20th National Assembly will fall into a coma and the president will be paralyzed.”

Other Saenuri leaders also apologized to the voters.

“The party failed to listen to the voice of the people,” Rep. Suh Chung-won, a key Park aide and member of the Supreme Council, said. “I offer my sincerest apology. I am the elder brother of this party and I am also responsible for this situation. Again, I apologize.”

Rep. Won Yoo-chul, the floor leader, said the party is in danger of losing its majority.

“It’s not because the opposition parties did well,” he said. “But it’s because we fueled the people’s loathing for politics with our nomination crisis.”

Earlier in the day, the party also unveiled a new campaign song and music video through YouTube. The leadership participated in the music video, singing the lyrics, “We won’t fight. We’ll work.”

Cho Dong-won, the party’s public relations director, who planned the new song, said the party wanted to ease the people’s anger with music.

“We decided to show that key players in the latest feud can sing together,” he said. “Some say just another campaign apology is meaningless. But we agreed to apologize rather than arrogantly holding our heads up high.”

BY HYUN IL-HOON, SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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