Political Merger Is Under Study

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Political Merger Is Under Study

Banks may not be the only group that is realigning. Major political parties seem headed for a landscape change, political insiders said Wednesday.

Amid the rumbles of an ongoing shake-up in the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, the party's former chairman confirmed rumors that the party is making attempts to merge with the minor United Liberal Democrats.

"I proposed to Rep. Kim Chong-hoh, the ULD's acting chairman, on Dec. 8 that the two parties should merge," said the former chairman, Suh Young-hoon. Mr. Suh added, however, that he made the proposal as an individual proposal and that he did not consult with President Kim Dae-jung, the party chief.

Publicly, both parties are saying that "now is not the time."

In response to the merger talk, the main opposition Grand National Party is expected to court individual lawmakers of the United Liberal Democrats to enter its fold. Three to four lawmakers are expected to join.

Neither the ruling nor the opposition parties enjoy a majority in the 273-seat National Assembly, making parliamentary proceedings a difficult process at best.

The merger, if it happens, would give the ruling party, which has 119 seats, the 17 seats of the United Liberal Democrats, allowing it to achieve majority status. The Grand National Party has 133 seats.

The ruling party has experienced difficulties in obtaining cooperation on its agenda, such as revising the parliamentary operations law to give the United Liberal Democrats negotiating status on the floor.

The ruling party also failed to cooperate on opposition initiatives, such as impeaching the nation's two top prosecutors and the parliamentary inspection of the recent illegal loan scandal.

by Lee Yang-soo

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