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The Birth of a Unified Democratic Party

Posted June. 04, 2007 06:16,   


The Democratic Party (“DP”) and the New Party for Centurist Reform (“NPCR”) will announce their alliance at a press conference today. The NPCR is comprised mostly of congressional members who have split from the ruling Uri Party. Once joined, the two parties will create the third largest party in the National Assembly with 33 congressional members (13 from the DP, and 20 from the NPCR).

Leaders of both parties, Park Sang-Cheon and Kim Han-gil, got together yesterday at a restaurant in Seoul and ironed out major differences.

According to their agreement, they will name the newly created party the “Unified Centrists’ Democratic Party” (Unified Democratic Party). The Unified Democratic Party will be governed by a joint leadership consisting of 12 members from both parties, including Park and Kim. The new party will also appoint a total of 150 members (75 members from each party) on its central committee.

The two parties also reached a compromise on a key issue that had hindered their merger. The insistence on “exclusion of a certain group” was watered down to a sentence reading, “Learning from the previous failure in national administration, we open ourselves to all people who share the cause of centrist reform to achieve grand alliance.” The compromise was borne out upon Park’s unconditional acceptance of the NPCR’s demand, which seems to be intended to appease the opposition from DP members supporting broader alliance.

NPCR’s congressional members held a meeting on Saturday night and relegated all relevant powers to NPCR leader Kim for the merger. The Democratic Party will convene its central governing board to officially ratify the agreement. In addition, the two parties will organize a working-level joint team today to work on the details. Once all these things are done, they will complete the merger by registering the new party with the National Election Commission by the 15th of this month.

Some members of the parties, however, remain cautious. They argue that the different positions on the “exclusion” issue will be difficult to iron out. Thus, according to them, things may not work out as expected.

“We have to wait and see what will really happen. It’s not sure whether the exclusion issue will be withdrawn as announced,” contends Democrat Kim Hyo-seok, who stands against party leader Park. Former Congressman Chung Gyun-hwan demanded the resignation of and an apology from the party’s pro-Park spokesperson Yoo Jong-pil, who officially denounced former President Kim Dae Jung in response to Kim’s contention that Park’s insistence on the issue had hindered broader alliance.

In the meanwhile, the Uri Party’s former congressional members Lew Seon-ho and Woo Yoon-keun will reportedly join the Democratic Party today, increasing the party’s congressional membership to 35 seats.

“Faced with the opening of a new era, I didn’t see the need to remain an independent,” announced Representative Lew yesterday. Congressman Woo also welcomed the merger, saying, “I welcome Park’s compromise. Once the exclusion issue is resolved, I don’t see any barrier to joining the party.”