3 Saenuri lawmakers seek the floor leadership

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3 Saenuri lawmakers seek the floor leadership

Three Saenuri Party lawmakers placed their bids on Sunday for the party’s floor leadership role in this week’s election, declaring through separate press conferences they would play key parts in “reforming” the conservative bloc in the aftermath of a crushing defeat in the general election.

All three lawmakers announced their candidacy on the last day of the registration deadline, ending a two-week mystery regarding who would herald a new era for the troubled party. In the April 13 general election, the Saenuri Party, to which President Park Geun-hye belongs, won 122 seats, while the Minjoo Party of Korea won 123 seats and the centrist People’s Party won 38. The Saenuri not only lost its majority in the National Assembly, but was also reduced to being the nation’s second-largest party.

As a result, Kim Moo-sung, the party’s former chairman, was quick to resign his chairmanship, followed by former Supreme Council members Suh Chung-won, Kim Tae-ho, Rhee In-je and Kim Eul-dong.

On Tuesday, Saenuri members of the newest legislature will cast their votes for the next floor leader, choosing among Na Kyung-won of Dongjak B District in southern Seoul; Chung Jin-suk of Gongju, Buyeo and Cheongyang County in South Chungcheong; and Yoo Ki-june of Seo and Dong Districts in Busan. Na, Chung and Yoo are all fourth-term lawmakers. The term of office for floor leader is one year. All three candidates each have a running mate vying for a spot as their chief policymaker.

Na will run with Kim Jae-kyung of Jinju A in South Gyeongsang, a fourth-term lawmaker. Chung teamed up with Kim Gwang-lim of Andong, North Gyeongsang, a third-term lawmaker. Yoo paired with Lee Myoung-su of Asan A in South Chungcheong, a second-term lawmaker.

“I believe,” Na said in a press conference on Sunday, “that having a female floor leader in a conservative party could represent significant change and reformation.”

Adding that the party’s factional conflicts were one substantial reason why it lost in the previous election, Na vowed to combine all the factions and work to bilaterally communicate with the Blue House.

Yoo echoed the significance of ditching internal factions, saying in a different press conference on Sunday that he would create an environment where party members can independently raise their voices on various state issues.

Chung promised to make a “horizontal relationship” with the Blue House, saying the presidential office must no longer pull the strings of the Saenuri Party.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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