Citizen Party accepts candidate recommendations

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Citizen Party accepts candidate recommendations

The Citizen Party (CP), a liberal coalition that includes the ruling party aimed at winning more proportional lawmakers in the April election, formed a nomination committee Thursday and started accepting candidate recommendations.

The CP, launched Wednesday by the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and four minor parties and a civic group, said it will accept recommendations until 3 p.m. on Sunday. The nomination committee will review them and select the final candidates, it said.

In addition to the public recommendations, the five participating political parties including the DP will suggest their own candidates.

“The public recommendations are intended to find new faces in groups outside the existing parties,” Woo Hee-jong, a co-chair of the CP, told the JoongAng Ilbo.

The CP said it is asking the public to recommend experts in six particular areas including prosecutorial reform, religious reform and press reform. It is also looking for experts in policies of public health and the medical system, micro-business and small- and medium-sized companies.

The party also said it is seeking generalists. The expert groups and the generalists will be evaluated separately.

“We have not decided how many candidates will be from the public recommendations,” Woo said. “We are looking for young candidates, and the direction will be decided tomorrow.”

According to recent opinion polls, the CP is expected to win about 16 seats, and the DP is demanding at least seven seats. Because the DP agreed to have less advantageous numbers on the list, four minor parties and the public are expected to field the first nine candidates.

The CP will use the DP’s verification system to evaluate the candidates. “We are sending a vetting team that worked in our nomination committee to the CP,” a senior DP member told the JoongAng Ilbo.

It practically means that the DP’s nominees are likely to pass the screening, while candidates recommended by other members in the coalition will have to go through the vetting process. The CP said four minor parties will each recommend three candidates, but their quota won’t be guaranteed if their nominees fail to pass the screening.

Depending on the evaluation outcome, none of the political parties that participated in the coalition can field candidates, while the rest on the list will be filled by those recommended by the public.

Because the CP was initiated by a civic group loyal to President Moon Jae-in and former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, it may end up becoming a satellite party of the DP, not a coalition. The CP also said it will recruit incumbent DP lawmakers who are not seeking reelection to change their party affiliations to join the coalition.

Meanwhile, the CP dismissed the possibility that a party outside the coalition could make recommendations, while fielding its own proportional candidates. There is speculation that the Open Democrats, a new political party for proportional representation created by former Rep. Chung Bong-ju and independent lawmaker Sohn Hye-won, may recommend some of its nominees to the CP, such as former presidential secretary Choe Kang-wook.

Woo, however, made clear that if that happens, the Open Democrats must give up fielding its own candidates. “If another party’s candidate joins the CP, they should do so with a precondition that that party will not field any proportional candidates,” Woo said. “If that party fields its own candidates while sending some of its members to us, that is a dirty trick.”

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