Conservatives closer to a merger

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Conservatives closer to a merger

The Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and the Party of New Conservatives (PNC) agreed Thursday to explore forming a new political party by uniting all anti-Moon Jae-in groups.

The National Integration Solidarity held a meeting of leaders of conservative civic groups and political parties in the morning to discuss an idea of a grand merger.

The participants agreed that they will form a committee to prepare the launch of a new political party. Park Hyung-jun, a sociology professor from Dong-A University, will head the preparation committee.

Among the participants were Rep. Lee Yang-soo of the LKP and Rep. Choung Byoung-gug of the PNC. The PNC was launched Sunday with politicians including Rep. Yoo Seong-min, who left the Bareunmirae Party on Jan. 3.

Following the meeting, the National Integration Solidarity announced that the participants reached an eight-point agreement including a plan to create a new political party.

They agreed to the principle that they will seek a grand merger of all centrist and conservative groups that are against the Moon administration.

They also agreed that the presidential impeachment of Park Geun-hye in 2016 should no longer be an obstacle to joint efforts to win parliamentary seats in the April general election.

“We’ve agreed with the LKP,” said Ahn Hyoung-hwan, secretary general of the National Integration Solidarity. “Rep. Lee, who attended the meeting with a fully delegated authority of the party, agreed to our plans.”

Ahn also said Rep. Choung from the PNC agreed to the initiative, adding that it satisfies three preconditions that PNC’s de facto leader Yoo had earlier demanded for a merger with the LKP.

In November, Yoo had said a grand merger of conservative parties would only be possible if the LKP admits the legitimacy of Park’s removal from office. He also said the new party must be a reformist conservative party and the participants must shelve all their old political practices and build a completely new system.

Ahead of the discussion on a grand merger, 18 first-term lawmakers of the LKP also held a separate meeting to urge the leadership to show more flexibility.

“A merger is not a matter of choice, but a must,” one of the participants said. “The party must not be obsessed with trivial, specific details. It must accept a merger initiative without calculating its gains and losses.”

Some veteran LKP lawmakers including Reps. Kim Sung-tae and Kim Tae-heum had a lunch meeting after the press conference and said LKP Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn has decided to accept Yoo’s demands. They said the ball is now in Yoo’s court.

The PNC appeared to be split, although it sent a representative to discuss a merger.

“We didn’t agree to form a new party,” said a senior member of the PNC. “We just attended the meeting to observe. If we will launch a new party [together with the LKP], Chairman Hwang must surrender his powers. We are not sure if he agrees to it.”

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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