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Uri Party Elects New Floor Leader

Posted January. 25, 2006 03:00,   


The ruling Uri Party selected Rep. Kim Han-gil as its new floor leader yesterday.

Kim won the election for the ruling party’s new floor leader in the National Assembly yesterday morning, defeating Rep. Bae Ki-sun by a landslide, 88-49, with 141 lawmakers in attendance. Kim will serve as the ruling party’s new floor leader for one year.

Many say that Kim’s election reflects the ruling party’s stance that it needs a strategist in a bid to break the current political crisis, including conflicts between the ruling and opposition parties over its railroading of the controversial private school law, and its low approval rates ahead of local elections in May.

Kim is said to be a resourceful lawmaker because he mapped out strategies for the 1997 and 2002 presidential elections. Considering Kim’s experience, many lawmakers within the ruling party appear to think that Kim will be able to use his experience to compromise with opposition parties or persuade the public.

Kim has been on good terms with the Uri Party’s standing adviser, Chung Dong-young. Taking this fact into consideration, some ruling party members say, “This election is a victory for the pro-Chung camp,” and “The pro-Chung camp exerted its power ahead of the party’s national convention slated for February.” However, given that a considerable number of the 88 lawmakers who voted for Kim do not belong to the pro-Chung camp, most lawmakers say that it is unreasonable to regard Kim’s election as a pro-Chung camp victory.

A first-term lawmaker said, “Kim’s vision on how he will lead the ruling party hit close to home.” During his campaign speech, Kim introduced the process of how Roh Moo-hyun and Chung Mong-jun, the two presidential candidates during the 2002 presidential election, came together, and the situation behind the 2004 general election, saying, “The ruling party will be able to win the regional election in May,” adding, “I will make the party win it.”

Kim’s steadfast confidence may have struck a chord with ruling party’s lawmakers, who have been losing their confidence lately. Some analyze that in the current situation where discord between the ruling party and Cheong Wa Dae remains after the controversial January 2 Cabinet reshuffle, the election result appears to reflect the accumulated discontent with the party-government-Cheong Wa Dae relationship within the ruling party, given Kim’s election pledges in which he vowed to consider the party first.

Considering that Kim has insisted that the ruling party recover its confidence, there is the possibility of a bumpy road ahead in relations between the ruling and opposition parties.

Regarding the thorny issue of revising the private school reform law, Kim clarified his stance, saying that there will be no negotiation without principle with the opposition parties. Observers expect that if the current sour relations between the ruling and opposition parties continue, and given that Rep. Lee Jae-oh, the new floor leader of the main opposition Grand National Party, has a personal history of participating in political struggle, it will inevitably lead to conflict and a prolonged political deadlock. There is also the possibility, however, that the ruling and opposition parties might compromise because they have been criticized for creating a protracted political impasse.