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[Opinion] Nomination of Screening Committee Chairman

Posted January. 22, 2008 07:17,   


At the time of the 2004 general elections, then Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-su chaired the Grand National Party’s nomination screening committee. The former head of the Seoul Prosecutor`s Office, Ahn Kang-min, served as vice chairman. But novelist Lee Mun-yeol was the one who drew media attention. The party at the time was on the verge of collapse due to successive defeats by its candidate Lee Hoi-chang in the 1997 and 2002 presidential elections, and a backlash from the party’s impeachment procedures against President Roh Moo-hyun. Against this backdrop, Lee Mun-yeol’s joining of the committee was a sigh of relief for the conservative party.

In the face of party efforts to nominate figures who served under the Fifth and Sixth Republics, including Jeong Hyeong-geun and Kim Yong-gap, Lee openly demanded overall party reform. When Jeong and Kim failed to get nominated by the Citizen′s Alliance for the General Election, however, Lee did not hide his displeasure. He also expressed dissatisfaction over the then ruling Uri Party’s winning of the majority of parliamentary seats in the general elections.

Today, the Grand National Party is in a totally opposite position, gaining back power for the first time in a decade. The party is enjoying majority support from the public except from the Jeolla provinces. Certain lawmakers from the liberal United New Democratic Party say its chief rival will win more than two-thirds of National Assembly seats in the upcoming general elections in April.

But the internal feud within the conservative party over candidate nomination is unlikely to die down easy, as its former chief Park Geun-hye is strongly protesting the possibility of backroom deals by President-elect Lee Myung-bak’s side. This week is the most critical for the party, as the formation of its nomination screening committee will be finalized at a meeting Thursday.

Party chairman Kang Jae-seop has recommended Ahn to head the committee this year. Ahn served on the committee in the 2004 general elections and supervised the screening of party candidates for the presidential primaries last year. He is, however, a virtual outsider, and this shows democracy within his party has yet to come. The potential secession among party lawmakers also suggests the party’s limitations. The Grand National Party should overhaul its nomination reform procedures without engaging in factional disputes and stand firm before the nation, whose voters will cast ballots hoping for change.

Editorial Writer Kim Chang-hyeok, hang@donga.com