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Major Liberal Party to Merge

Posted February. 13, 2008 01:35,   


The liberal United New Democratic Party (UNDP) agreed to merge yesterday with the minor Democratic Party (DP).

UNDP Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu and DP Chairman Park Sang-cheon announced the merger in a ceremony at the National Assembly in Seoul.

The formation of the new United Democratic Party comes more than four years after President Roh Moo-hyun and his followers ditched the Millennium Democratic Party in September 2003 and founded the Uri Party, the de facto predecessor of the UNDP. The same force formed the Participatory United New Party that initiated the merger.

Park and Sohn will serve as co-chairmen, but the new party will register Sohn as the sole leader with the National Election Commission. A debate over leadership had delayed the merger, but the party has reportedly stipulated co-chairmanship in its constitution.

The new party said in a joint declaration between the UNDP and DP, “The Grand National Party holds the presidency and influential provincial government posts, and if the party wins two thirds of parliamentary seats in the upcoming general elections, democracy in the Republic of Korea will be in danger.”

On candidate nominations for the elections, the two agreed to “a balanced nomination of candidates for the elections based on trust and objective standards.”

The declaration also said, “Half of the candidate screening committee members will be from outside the party. The party respects the committee’s autonomy, and the candidate nomination system will be decided based on the mutual agreement of the two chairmen.”

The new party will form a working-level body to finalize the merger, including the makeup of its decision-making committee, and register with the National Election Commission by Saturday.

Co-chairman Sohn said, “We will devote ourselves to reforming the party. The party need to depart from the idea that nomination in a certain area is all that a candidate needs.”