People’s Party votes on merger

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People’s Party votes on merger

A vote of confidence began Wednesday to decide the fate of the leader of the center-left opposition People’s Party, Ahn Cheol-soo, and his plan to merge with the conservative Bareun Party.

The internal vote will ask all members of the People’s Party about their stances on Ahn’s leadership and his merger proposal. It will take place for four days until Saturday and the outcome will be announced on Sunday.

The National Election Commission operated a two-day online voting system on Wednesday and Thursday. Following the vote, the party will operate an additional telephone vote on Friday and Saturday for the party members who did not cast votes.

The survey will ask members their position on Ahn, who will step down if he loses the vote.

Ahn left the Democratic Party and created the People’s Party in February 2016. He was elected chairman in August of this year.

Since November, Ahn has been talking about a merger with the newly elected chairman of the Bareun Party, Yoo Seong-min, ahead of local elections in June. Both Ahn and Yoo were defeated as presidential contenders in the May election. Ahn finished the race in third place, with Yoo a distant fourth.

Ahn said the marriage will be the only way to end the old way of doing politics, long dominated by the liberal ruling Democratic Party and the conservative main opposition Liberty Korea Party. As of now, the People’s Party has 39 lawmakers in the 297-member National Assembly. The Bareun Party has 11.

The People’s Party is currently split over Ahn’s plan. Veteran politicians with strong ties to the Jeolla region are particularly resistant to the merger.

Twenty lawmakers and 17 local chapter heads of the People’s Party filed an injunction on Monday to the Seoul Southern District Court to stop the vote, but the court rejected it on Wednesday.

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