DP to join initiative to form satellite party

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DP to join initiative to form satellite party


Lee Hae-chan, chairman of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), announces on Friday that DP will participate in a liberal satellite political party, to win more proportional seats in the April elections. [NEWS1]

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) said Friday it will join an initiative to form a liberal satellite political party, reversing its previous rejection of the strategy to win more proportional seats in the April general elections.

The DP said it conducted a vote of all members from 6 a.m. Thursday for 24 hours and 74.1 percent supported the plan for the party to join a satellite offshoot. Of the 780,000 members eligible to vote, 241,559 or 30.6 percent cast ballots and 179,096 or 74.1 percent supported the plan.

“We saw overwhelming support,” said Rep. Kang Hoon-sik, chief spokesman of the DP. “We concluded that the members demanded our participation in the initiative. It was the fourth vote of the members [since Chairman Lee Hae-chan took office], and the turnout was the highest.”

In the April 15 general elections, the two largest parties – the DP and the conservative opposition United Future Party (UFP) - will compete against each other to win more constituencies, while their satellite parties will compete to win more proportional seats. Of the 300 seats in the National Assembly, 47 are allocated to proportional lawmakers.

Chairman Lee said the decision was to stop the UFP from becoming the largest party and undoing reform measures pushed forward by the Moon Jae-in administration. “The DP will participate in a satellite party to punish the UFP while upholding the true purpose of the new election law. We are not doing this to win more seats. Our priority is supporting minor parties.”

The DP has already started urging other liberal parties including the Justice Party to join its plan to form a liberal satellite offshoot. As of now, several political parties to produce liberal proportional lawmakers have been established. The Political Reform Coalition is one of such groups, established earlier this month by 200 liberal activists and religious leaders.

“Chairman Lee will send invitations to all political parties except for the UFP,” said a DP official.

The DP’s decision, however, faced fierce criticisms from the UFP as well as liberal political parties. “The DP had long condemned the satellite party strategy as a foul play, mischief and cheating,” said Kim Jung-hwa, co-chairwoman of the centrist Party for People’s Livelihoods which has 19 lawmakers. “It is lame that the DP decided to betray itself, betray reform and betray the people.”

Some of the Party for People’s Livelihoods members, however, said the time has come for it to join the DP’s initiative. “I propose that we join it,” said Rep. Park Jie-won. “We must think about if it will be possible for the liberals to win the next presidential election when the conservative becomes the majority party and control the legislature with their National Assembly speaker and key committee heads.”

The Justice Party also criticized the DP, making clear that it will never join the initiative. “It is extremely lamentable that the DP chose the path of foul play and dirty tricks,” said Jeong Ho-jin, spokesman of the Justice Party. He also said it is deplorable that the ruling party’s decision excuses the UFP for using the same dirty tricks.

The UFP fiercely attacked the DP. “The DP railroaded the new proportional representation system with a promise that it won’t form a satellite party,” said Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn. “It, however, shamelessly broke the promise to the people after only a few months.”

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