Will it be possible for the Liberty Korea Party to rebuild itself given it has not yet overcome the consequences of the complete loss in the 2016 general elections, the impeachment of President Park, and the failure in this year's local elections? At a critical moment when it has to ask itself, a new leadership was initiated Tuesday to lead the troubled major opposition party. Rep. Na Kyung-won has been elected a new floor leader of the party. With Rep. Chung Yong-ki as a running mate for the position of chief policymaker of the party, Rep. Na earned 68 votes in the election with the total ballot of 103 counted, defeating Rep. Kim Hak-yong who earned 35 votes.
Rep. Na is supported by pro-Park and remaining members while Rep. Kim is backed up by anti-Park members and those who pursue rejoining. However, such a divided dynamic is not likely to lead the party to a dead-end alley, which happened between supporters and opponents of former President Park Geun-hye before her impeachment was determined. Under these circumstances, the newly elected floor leader has to dispel concerns over the party’s return to a pro-Park party.
The approval rate of the Liberty Korea Party dropped to the 10 percent range right after the 2018 local elections, but it has recently showed an upward trend. Some surveys indicate that the figure has reached somewhere in the mid-20 percent range. However, it is just because of the Moon Jae-in administration’s lopsided ideological tendency in governance and the recent economic difficulty. Many Korean citizens aspire a newly-born conservative party to realize free democracy, market economic values, balance between security and peace-making, and economic revitalization. To that end, self-reform and integration matter. However, it is not the case. The party teems with politicians who only seek for self-interests and privilege while turning a blind eye to a better future for the nation. The opposition party has to revamp the personnel structure to cleanse off a negative image as a mouthpiece for the old-school corrupt established even if it may mean a dissolution of the party.
As integrating conservatives requires centripetal force to work, only an aversion of the ruling party cannot play the role. It has been five months since an emergency planning committee was formed under the leadership of Rep. Kim Byung-joon. However, the committee has done little except criticizing nationalism. The newly established party leadership has to work on a direction toward new conservatism and values to drive up the party so that a new leadership will rise before next year’s party convention. If party personnel is swayed by factions once again, the Liberty Korea Party will inevitably be relegated to a small right-wing political party around the 2020 general elections. The new leadership should reform the party as if it were the last chance to revive the conservative.