Saenuri’s in no hurry to welcome back reps

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Saenuri’s in no hurry to welcome back reps

The new floor leader of the Saenuri Party said he will not hurry to recruit independent lawmakers to try to regain its position as the largest party in the 20th National Assembly.

The conservative Saenuri Party held a meeting of its lawmakers-elect on Monday and discussed the party’s future in the aftermath of its crushing defeat in the April 13 general election. The party, which earlier commanded a majority in the 300-member legislature, only won 122 seats and was reduced to the second largest party. The Minjoo Party of Korea won 123 seats, the People’s Party 38 seats and the Justice Party six. Independent candidates won 11.

In an attempt to regain its biggest party position, the ruling party decided shortly after the election that it will invite back lawmakers who left the party after being denied nominations and won races as independents. Of 11 independent lawmakers-elect, seven are former Saenuri members. Most of them were considered less-than-loyal to President Park Geun-hye.

Following the meeting with lawmakers-elect on Monday, Saenuri floor leader Chung Jin-suk told reporters he will not hurry to bring back the seven independent lawmakers.

“I said there will be no reinstatement before negotiations begin with the opposition parties to form the 20th National Assembly,” Chung said. “The voters made a decision on April 13 to create a new political order by awarding the second largest party position to us. I believe it is correct to respect this will.”

Chung said the party will not hurry to become the largest power in order to seize the advantage in selection of the National Assembly speaker and heads of key standing committees. “We will not cheat,” he said. “And no lawmaker disagreed with this principle.”

Before Chung’s statement, the Saenuri Party’s reservation about allowing the independents’ return was already expected. During a meeting with editors on April 26, President Park said her party should decide on their fates only after it coped with the election defeat and stabilized its leadership. She was critical of some independents, particularly Rep. Yoo Seong-min.

On Monday, the Saenuri Party decided to elect a new leadership in July. The party will form an interim leadership committee next week, as all members of the Supreme Council stepped down to take responsibility for the election defeat.

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