Controversy continues to escalate over the decision by the main opposition party’s interim leadership to reduce the clout of legislators close to former President Park Geun-hye.
The Liberty Korea Party’s emergency committee said Saturday that 21 incumbent lawmakers will be ineligible to lead the party’s powerful district committees. Among those on the list are figureheads in the pro-Park faction, such as four-term lawmaker Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan.
While the lawmakers on the list are not prohibited from running for the general election slated for 2020, the emergency committee’s decision has raised concern among moderate members that the measure might undermine their efforts to challenge the Moon Jae-in administration.
“I think the scope of the reform plan is too extensive,” said Rep. Na Kyung-won, who was elected floor leader last week. “I expressed strong regret over the decision because it will undermine our efforts to build a united front (against the Moon administration).
“I have also stressed that we should not rule out the possibility for those lawmakers on the list to get a second chance — if they work really hard on their legislative efforts until the general election.”
|Liberty Korea Party`s interim chief Kim Byung-joon. Yonhap|
The lawmakers on the list are to be stripped of their right to lead any of the party’s district offices — a position considered to carry significant influence when the party leadership nominates candidates for the general election.
The Liberty Korea Party has been in turmoil since former President Park was ousted last year over a massive power abuse and bribery scandal. Park and her close aides received prison terms after the courts found them guilty of abuse of power and coercion. Park has been sentenced to 33 years in prison.
While the conservative bloc’s popularity has seen a bit of an uptick amid the growing dissatisfaction with the Moon administration’s economic policies, the main opposition party’s overhaul efforts appear to have stopped short of the voters’ expectations.
“The Liberty Korea Party cannot turn over a new leaf as long as those responsible for the ouster of Park and the defeat to Moon remain in place,” conservative lawyer Jun Won-tchack said Wednesday during an interview with local broadcaster CBS. Jun chaired the party’s reform committee before he was removed from the post in November.
According to a Gallup Korea survey released Friday, Moon’s approval rating fell to its lowest level since he took office last year. Moon’s support came to 45 percent, down 4 percentage points from the previous week.
Support for the Liberty Korea Party, however, reached its highest level since the party’s defeat to Moon during the 2017 presidential election. The conservative party’s approval rating came to 19 percent, up 2 percentage points from the previous week.