LKP lawmakers express support for conservative mergerA group of second-term lawmakers of the Liberty Korea Party (LKP) on Tuesday expressed their support for a conservative merger.
The LKP’s second-term lawmakers held a breakfast meeting and exchanged opinions about how to redefine the party’s image ahead of the April general elections. The meeting takes place as LKP Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn increasingly pushes for a merger with other conservative groups, particularly the moderate conservative Bareunmirae Party.
The discussion also followed an earlier meeting of a group of first-term LKP lawmakers who are also supportive of a conservative merger. During the meeting on Thursday, they demanded that senior politicians must retire or give up their constituencies and run in unfavorable districts. The demand was particularly targeted at those who won over three terms in the party’s strongholds of North and South Gyeongsang, Busan and Daegu as well as Gangnam, Seocho and Songpa districts in Seoul.
As of now, the LKP has 30 second-term lawmakers. Combined with the 44 first-term lawmakers, the two groups together occupy 70 percent of the 109 LKP seats, indicating that their demands will be influential in the nomination process.
Of the 30 second-term lawmakers, 18 attended the nearly two-hour breakfast meeting on Tuesday. Rep. Park Duk-hyum, a secretary of the group, later briefed reporters that three issues were discussed.
“First, we agreed that we actively support the conservative merger,” Park said. “Second, we discussed a plan that we will submit letters of authorization to the leadership to give it all powers for nomination.”
“Third, we decided to make a demand to the leadership that all LKP lawmakers must give up their seats if the contentious bills designated as fast-track items are passed as they are,” he said.
Although it was not included in Park’s official briefing, the most heated debate took place on another sensitive issue - whether the party will have to make an official stance on the impeachment of Park Geun-hye.
The LKP’s stance on the Park issue will decide the direction of its conservative merger.
Rep. Yoo Seong-min, a leader of the Bareunmirae Party, said last week that a grand merger of conservative parties will only be possible if the LKP admits the legitimacy of Park’s removal from office. On the other hand, Our Republican Party, a far-right party, is known for its aggressive campaign to exonerate Park.
According to a second-term lawmaker who attended the breakfast meeting, most of the participants said they agree with Yoo’s proposal. “Most of us agreed that there is no good in revisiting history again and again,” he said. “Most agreed that we need to build a big tent of the conservatives first and then think about it later.”
Another participant said 80 percent of them said they don’t want to self-evaluate their own history, while 20 percent said they want to make clear the party’s stance for once.
According to another lawmaker, the participants were generally against the idea that the LKP would merge with Our Republican Party.
The two-term lawmakers also discussed the idea that senior politicians will run in the strategic districts to face strong Democratic Party rivals. “We can’t force it, but we need to ask them to run in the capital region,” said Rep. Kim Myung-yeon.
Later in the afternoon, the LKP also scheduled a general assembly of its lawmakers to discuss the merger. Chairman Hwang also had a lunch with senior lawmakers and discussed the conservative unity.
BY SUNG JI-WON [firstname.lastname@example.org]