Never-ending strifeThe internal strife that pushed the vulnerable Saenuri Party to the brink of another breakdown was hastily patched up after Kim Hee-ok decided to retain his seat as interim head of an emergency leadership committee upon accepting an apology from the floor leader.
Kim, who had refused to work after the party’s interim leadership voted to reinstate seven independent lawmakers, agreed to accept floor leader Chung Jin-suk’s apology. He will continue to head the committee, which decides party affairs, until the next party convention.
The keystone of the vote was whether to accept back Rep. Yoo Seong-min, resented by the mainstream faction loyal to President Park Geun-hye for his independence from her. Kim, as well as the pro-Park faction, claim the discussion and voting process had been forced by the non-mainstream faction to favor reinstating the independent members.
But Yoo’s return to the party is pivotal in its symbolic acceptance of the public’s verdict in April’s general election, which delivered a heavy blow to the party by stripping it of its majority. The Saenuri Party lost the public’s confidence due to a shameful showdown that ended up disqualifying and kicking out members disloyal to the president.
The pro-Park group vehemently resisted the emergency committee’s decision to allow Yoo back. Kim, the leader seated by the pro-Park faction, also criticized the way the vote was carried out. In apparent disapproval, the Blue House canceled a scheduled high-level meeting with party leaders to discuss a corporate restructuring agenda.
Unless the Blue House and pro-Park faction stop the childish game of testing the loyalty of party members, the Saenuri Party cannot get back to normal. Interruption in the cooperation between the party and government will hurt governance of the nation. A storm is brewing ahead of the historic referendum in the United Kingdom to decide whether Britain will stay or leave the European Union, as its exit could send strong shockwaves to markets around the world.
The ruling party and government also must come up with strategies to settle the division over the selection of a new airport in the southern region. This is not a moment to be wasting time by stirring up a storm in a teapot over who is or isn’t loyal to the president.
The key to restoring order in the party lies with the president. She must respect the sovereignty of a party that must devise a strategy to win the next presidency. Instead of trying to forcefully tame the party, the president must run state affairs in a way that places national interests first.
JoongAng Ilbo, June 20, Page 30
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