[Editorial] Yoon loyalists in PPP sound alarms

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[Editorial] Yoon loyalists in PPP sound alarms

President Yoon Suk Yeol stressed the need for the People Power Party (PPP) and the government to “get united to work for the people” in a meeting Monday with new leaders of the governing party at his office. After expressing his trust in them as they worked for him in the presidential campaign, Yoon said, “I can concentrate on running the country from now.” The remarks represent his satisfaction with the new leadership of the PPP under his command.

Lawmakers loyal to Yoon also swept the five-member Supreme Council of the party. Rep. Lee Chul-gyu, a close ally of the president, was appointed as party secretary general who handles nomination affairs for candidates in the parliamentary elections next year. Other major posts of the party also were taken by pro-Yoon lawmakers, including Rep. Park Soo-young as head of the Yeouido Institute, a PPP think tank. Four legislators — all avid followers of the president — were elected as members of the Supreme Council. Political pundits have started criticizing the homogeneity of the new leadership of the PPP.

The dinner in the presidential office on Monday was marked by the “synchronization of the party and the government.” After President Yoon accentuated the need for working together, Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon, the newly-elected head of the party, led a chorus for the PPP and government to act as one team. Under the presidential system, a governing party’s full-fledged support for the head of state looks natural given the need for their close cooperation in running the country.

But if uniformity prevails, the PPP could turn into a puppet dispatched by the president to the legislature. After watching the heated race to elect a new leader in the party convention last week, many people express concerns about a lack of diversity in the PPP. After the news broke that the president and the new chairman agreed to meet each other twice a month, an opposition lawmaker sarcastically interpreted the move as “presidential intervention” in party affairs.

The regular meeting between the president and the chairman must serve as a venue for healthy communication for checks and balances, as well as a platform for cooperation between Yoon and PPP. As a member of the legislature, the party head must deliver diverse public sentiment to the president and criticize government policies if they go in the wrong direction.

That’s what the separation of powers demands from the party leader.

But the way the new PPP head behaves sounds alarms from the start. If the pro-Yoon faction dominates the party without any checks, it only signals dark clouds over the future of the PPP.
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