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Grand National Party’s Internal Discord Expressed in Workshop

Grand National Party’s Internal Discord Expressed in Workshop

Posted August. 31, 2005 06:49,   


The main opposition Grand National Party (GNP)’s internal wrangles, which have lurked under the surface, have boiled over.

In a workshop held in Daemyung Vivaldi Park in Hongcheon-gun, Gangwon Province on August 30, GNP lawmakers expressed stark differences in their views over key pending issues.

The knottiest point of contention is whether the party leadership, including Chairwoman Park Geun-hye, will accept final measures to revamp the party. Not to mention accepting the reform measures, however, regarding several issues, including President Roh’s proposal of a grand coalition government, real estate measures, and the illegal bugging scandal, lawmakers’ countermeasures failed to reach an agreement.

Is This a Sign to Change the Party’s Power Structure?-

In her opening speech, Chairwoman Park said, “I will not prejudge the measures drawn up by the party’s reform committee as the party’s leader, and I will accept and put into practice all of the results reached through discussions.”

The reform measures planned by the party’s reform committee include measures related to the party’s power system, including a transfer to a collective leadership system, division between the party presidency and the governing power one and half year before the 2007 presidential election, and an early party convention. If the reform measures are accepted in the GNP, Chairwoman Park must resign from her post in early next year before completing her term.

However, the so-called “pro-Park side,” a group supporting Park, spurned the measures on the grounds that the party will not be able to effectively counter the ruling Uri Party in the local election slated for May 2006. Rep. Lee Bang-ho argued, “Let Park spearhead the local election scheduled for May 2006 and take political responsibility for the results in the election.”

On the other hand, the younger reformists backing the reform measures, including members belonging to the New Politics Wednesday Meeting, called for an all-out acceptance of the reform measures, saying, “If the current situation continues, the slack party will not have a bright future.”

Rep. Shim Jae-chul, the head of the National Development Strategy Research Committee, insisted, “The party should go back the beginning that called for reform.” Rep. Kwon Chul-hyun also said, “The party leadership should fully accept the reform measures without making any conditions.”

Lots of Views on the Idea of a Grand Coalition-

Another hot issue in the workshop was the president’s idea of a grand coalition. Some lawmakers officially proposed a review of the idea of a grand coalition that has been raised sporadically. Some pointed out that if the party continued to stick to the current strategy of ignoring the idea, it might fail to take the lead in the political situation.

Lawmaker Park Hyeong-joon, the head of the New Politics Wednesday Meeting, insisted, “As the largest opposition party, since it is not desirable to only neglect the president’s proposals, the party should come up with alternative countermeasures.” Rep. Lee Seong-kweun added, “Advancing discussions over a constitution amendment can be an alternative.”

However, floor leader Kang Jae-sup, and lawmakers Yoo Seong-min and Chun Yu-ok adhered to the existing strategy, saying, “Being concerned about the idea of a grand coalition is the same as being embroiled in the ruling party’s political game.”

On top of that, GNP lawmakers discussed key impending issues, countermeasures, and measures for the public’s livelihood to be introduced in the regular National Assembly session slated for September.

The party has decided to push ahead with revised bills in which income tax rates and corporate tax rates will be reduced by two percent, respectively, in the upcoming regular National Assembly. In addition, the party has decided to push ahead with bills, including 10 percent-decreased oil taxes, exemption from special excise taxes imposed on the LPG for taxies and handicapped vehicles, and reduced mobile phone charges, as planned.

Jung-Eun Lee Dong-Yong Min lightee@donga.com mindy@donga.com