Published : 2013-01-08 21:14
Updated : 2013-01-08 21:14
Rival factions within the main opposition party collided Tuesday over the selection fo an interim leader to handle challenges following the defeat in the presidential poll last month.
The Democratic United Party (DUP) has been in disarray since its defeat in the Dec. 19 election. On the eve of a party meeting to pick an interim leader, mainstream and non-mainstream factions exchanged criticism, accused each other of trying to evade responsibility for the election loss.
The main conflict is over a push by dozens of younger lawmakers to get one of their colleagues, Rep. Park Young-sun, to be elected as the party's interim leader pending a national convention several months away.
A group of mainstream lawmakers, whose members are mostly party seniors, oppose the selection of the 52-year old former TV reporter and three-term lawmaker as the interim leader, arguing that her group should take more of the responsibility for the election setback.
Many of her supporters led the election campaign for the party's candidate, Moon Jae-in.
Following the election setback, the opposition party's leadership resigned en masse despite concerns that a "rudderless" party may not be able to campaign effectively in April's parliamentary by-elections, in which up to 15 seats are at stake.
The outcome of the by-elections could tip the power balance inthe 300-member parliament. Currently, the ruling Saenuri Party has 153 seats against 128 seats controlled by the main opposition party. The others are either independents or belong to minor parties.
"Besides the need to take joint responsibility for her senior role in the election camp, we oppose Park because those that are rallying behind her want to strengthen their respective positions within the DUP that can be seen by the public as a move to defend vested interests," said a DUP official, who declined to be identified.
Related to the impasse, floor leader Park Ki-choon, who himself was elected on Dec. 28 after his predecessor stepped down for losing the presidential race, said he is carefully weighing all the options and checking public opinion.
"I intend to look at those that have been recommended for the leader's post," he said. Park said that he will hold talks early Wednesday with DUP lawmakers who have been elected more than three times to make up his mind.
Political watchers said that the floor leader choice may be crucial because lawmakers who support Park said they will accept his decision on the matter.
They said that the floor leader probably wants to designate the next party chief without a vote counting process, but if no understanding is reached, there may be a need to hold an election.
Such a process is not favored because it can lead to the further division between young lawmaker and the mainstream pro-Roh faction that can further alienated voters and weaken the party cohesion.