Discontent in Ruling Party Results in Resignation Calls

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Discontent in Ruling Party Results in Resignation Calls

Millennium Democratic Party members, a faction-ridden amalgam of old-guard democracy activists, Kim Dae-jung loyalists and Jeolla politicians with grievances about the region's treatment by other parts of the country, seem to agree on one thing: they want heads to roll in the wake of the party's embarrassing poll defeat last week.

Members of five party factions launched on Wednesday a petition drive to demand the immediate removal of those responsible for the Oct. 25 electoral thrashing. A group of freshman Millennium Democrats specifically targeted two core Donggyo-dong faction members - a former Supreme Council member, Kwon Roh-kap, and the presidential secretary for policy and planning, Park Jie-won. They also asked that five party leaders, including Chairman Han Kwang-ok, take responsibility for the defeat and resign from their party posts. The Donggyo-dong faction, named after the Seoul district where Kim Dae-jung formerly lived, is a group of politicians who have hitched their wagon to Mr. Kim's star.

"We are confident that more than half of the 118 Millennium Democrats in the Assembly will sign on," said Representative Kim Seong-ho, a member of a group called "Dawn 21" that represents the party's first-term lawmakers and is leading the petition drive.

Unlike the power struggle that emerged late last year and, briefly, this spring, other forces within the party are joining the Young Turks' campaign. They include "Good Politics," led by Representative Chung Dong-young and other second-term lawmakers, and "Open Politics Forum," led by Representative Lim Chae-jung and other former democracy activists-turned-lawmakers.

The "Yeouido Jeongdam," led by senior representatives Chough Soon-hyung and Chang Young-dal have also joined. The petition will be presented to President Kim Dae-jung when he meets with the party's Supreme Council members on Saturday. The meeting is an attempt to chart the party's strategy in next year's local and presidential elections.

The party's leadership could not agree to set up an apparatus to deal with party nominations and appointments. Reformists and insurgents said such an apparatus would be ineffective unless Donggyo-dong faction members retire.

The party canceled another leadership meeting scheduled for Thursday on fears that it would only result in more bitter bickering. The president has not yet spoken publicly on the issue.

by Lee Yang-soo

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