The party was formed through the merger of conservative Bareun Party, and the People’s Party rooted in the traditionally progressive Jeolla provinces.
|Bareun Future Party members pose at the launch ceremony in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday. From left: Former People`s Party chairman Ahn Cheol-soo, Bareun Future Party co-chairmen Reps. Yoo Seong-min and Park Joo-sun, and floor leader Rep. Kim Dong-cheol. Yonhap|
The new party is headed by four term lawmakers Reps. Yoo Seong-min and Park Joo-sun. Yoo had headed the conservative opposition Bareun Party, which split off from the defunct Saenuri Party after former President Park Geun-hye’s fall from grace.
Park Joo-sun is a deputy speaker of the National Assembly, and served as the People’s Party’s interim leader after Ahn Cheol-soo’s defeat in last year’s presidential election.
Yoo will serve as the co-chair of the party until the June 13 local elections, after which he will step down from the post. Ahn, for the time being, will not take a leadership position in the new party.
“We will become a party that competes with the incompetent ruling party, and the center-right reformist party that replaces the Liberty Korea Party,” Yoo said in his acceptance speech, describing the party’s formation as “reformist conservatives and rational centrists” banding together.
As for Park Joo-sun, he focused on the party’s self-appointed task of political reform, and rebuffed concerns that the new party may align itself with the rightwing.
With neither the ruling Democratic Party nor the main opposition Liberty Korea Party holding majority, Bareun Future Party hopes to play a decisive role despite its minor status. Of the 300 National Assembly seats, 294 are currently filled, with the Democratic Party holding 121 and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party 117.
Although the new party has opted to exclude political ideologies from its policy directive, pundits say that the party is likely to lean towards the right.
The party’s policy directive focuses on national security, economic reform, justice and human rights.
While the new party hopes to play a key role in the National Assembly, whether the party will receive wider support from the public remains to be seen.
According to a recent poll conducted by the local research firm Realmeter, the party’s approval rating fell for the second consecutive week to come in at 11 percent last week.
The figure is only marginally higher than the sum of those of Bareun Party and People’s Party. In the survey, Bareun Party’s figure came to 5.7 percent, while People’s Party recorded 4.8 percent.
The Party for Democracy and Peace, which split off from the People’s Party in protest of the merger, responded to the launch of the Bareun Future Party by raising concerns.
“There are many concerns for the Bareun Future Party, which was formed through many twists and turns such as the splitting of the party, and a name change,” the Party for Democracy and Peace said.
“(Members of) Bareun Future Party supported the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, and therefore has the duty to support the completion of the candlelight revolution.”
With candlelight protests having played a major role in the impeachment of Park, some ruling bloc politicians have dubbed the change in government the “candlelight revolution.”
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)