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Mayor Lee Puts Emphasis on GNP Unity

Posted June. 03, 2006 03:12,   


In his exclusive interview with Dong-a Ilbo, printed in the June 2 edition of the paper, Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak, placing emphasis on accepting the results of the party primaries, emphasized a good faith competition with Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye,. Hence, both party insiders and outsiders viewed this as a sign that eliminates the possibility of the GNP’s dissolution.

Emphasizing Accepting the Results of Primaries—

During the interview, Mayor Lee mentioned, “The Koreans desire a change of regime, My relationship with Chairwoman Park is of competition within the boundaries of good-faith, The GNP splitting in two, is betraying the public,” in order to strongly emphasize unity.

Until now, there were persistent forecasts within the party that if the GNP presidential candidate nomination race tilted in favor of Chairwoman Park, Mayor Lee could make another decision, but he discarded such scenario through the interview.

During the interview, Mayor Lee reminisced about the 1995 Democratic Freedom Party Seoul Mayor candidate primaries, where he faced off former Prime Minister Chung Won-sik and said, “At the time I found traces of corruption, but I thought it would be better to save the party, so I did not make a problem out of it, and neither did I resign from the party.”

When asked about accepting the outcome of party primaries, GNP Chairwoman Park has consistently answered, “That is common sense.”

It is also quite significant that the leading two potential presidential candidates share the same opinion of the issue of constitutional amendments.

Chairwoman Park said at the Kwanhun Club hosted forum held on May 9, “There shouldn’t be constitutional amendments during the term of the current government,” while Mayor Lee also spurned, “Arguing to amend the constitution right now can be seen as nothing more than a strategy aimed at the presidential elections.”

There were mixed views within party when Mayor Lee made amicable statements about Chairwoman Park such as “She has great virtues,” and “Showing passion while wounded had great political effects.”

Chairwoman Park’s associates did not show much response and just commented, “That is just general talk.” A lawmaker close to Mayor Lee commented, “Mayor Lee showed his confidence in the point that he insinuated the question of who can win the presidential election.”

Currently, GNP’s Future Shape is Foggy—

Chairwoman Park will resign sometime around June 16. A GNP convention to elect the successor to Chairwoman Park as well as five new supreme committee members is planned for July 11, but the candidates within the party are still unknown.

Nevertheless, behind the scenes competition is fierce, and it is certain that Floor Leader Lee Jae-oh will run for the party chairmanship. Although Lee stresses strict neutrality, it is reported that he is close with Mayor Lee.

Chairwoman Park’s camp is not declaring a clear position on whether it will support a certain candidate. Secretary General Kim Moo-sung or former lawmaker Maeng Hyung-kyu, who are close to Chairwoman Park, were mentioned as potential candidates, but it seems that they haven’t made up their minds yet.

Accordingly, there are also predictions that Chairwoman Park and Mayor Lee might reach a gentlemen’s agreement, where they agree not to interfere with inner party politics. Former Floor Leader Kang Jae-sup and former National Assembly Vice-speaker Park Hee-tae have also been mentioned for some time as potential party leader candidate alternatives.

The minority faction is also active. They have agreed that they need to show the party’s change through this convention and are searching for alternatives.

Yong-Gwan Jung yongari@donga.com