Time to get creativeFour-term Rep. Chung Jin-suk was elected as the ruling Saenuri Party’s floor leader for the incoming 20th legislature. He won an overwhelming 69 votes from 122 lawmakers-elect, easily defeating his competitors Na Kyung-won with 43 votes and Yoo Ki-june with seven.
“We have 18 months left [before the presidential election],” he said in an acceptance speech. “I will serve my best as a relief and starting pitcher for President Park Geun-hye and her successor.”
Chung called upon unity from his peers to exercise the ruling party’s duty in a new National Assembly dominated by two opposition parties.
The lawmaker has expressed his determination to restore the party’s reputation in next presidential election following its crushing defeat in the parliamentary election. He has also said he will make the ruling party more responsible and cooperate with the opposition that now forms the majority of the new legislature.
The journalist-turned-politician served as a senior political affairs secretary in the previous conservative government and is known for his experience, skill as a negotiator and willingness to cooperate. He is a sensible choice to represent the ruling party on the floor. He is expected to demonstrate a new style of politicking through cooperation and compromise with his counterparts from the Minjoo Party and People’s Party in an unprecedented three-party system.
Chung must display leadership to put the ruling party’s house in order. He must restore the reputation of the party, which has been accused of being little more than an army battalion that moves on the commands of the president. The party’s humiliating defeat in the April 13 general election was due to the excess of staunch loyalists to the president.
Chung is said to be tacitly favored by the president and her followers. The party would lose the chance to revive itself for good if the leadership continues to serve the president instead of the people. Chung also must come up with a smart strategy to keep up the ruling party’s face in a parliament where it no longer holds the majority. The party also must work closely with the government against the many imminent challenges. The new floor leader must be more inventive than any of his predecessors.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 4, Page 34