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Factional Strife Plaguing Floor Leader Election

Posted May. 19, 2009 08:27,   


The ruling Grand National Party’s election of a new floor leader is intensifying factional strife, as contenders have failed to present visions or philosophy to promote their candidacies.

The race will elect the internal leadership to lead the party within the National Assembly over the next year. While contenders have failed to present their policy visions, factional and regional distribution of key seats will likely determine who wins.

Party lawmakers who will cast ballots seem less than interested in what visions the candidates have for floor leader. How to mix representatives from the pro-Lee Myung-bak and the pro-Park Geun-hye factions and doling out key seats to candidates from the Seoul and the Gyeongsang regions seem to be emerging as the only determinants of the election’s results.

The party’s special reform committee is discussing internal reform but has no say on the reality of the election in which factional interests determine the result. This is because the committee is composed of members representing the factions.

Internal conflict emerged after Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan, a Park supporter, declared his bid for the party’s policy committee chairmanship. Rep. Lee Sang-deuk and party Chairman Park Hee-tae are internally rumored to be “invisible hands” pushing for Choi as a bargaining chip.

Party insiders say the move results from the ideas of the two veteran politicians, who wanted to form a floor leadership focusing on compromise to dispel pressure on the party leadership to resign over the party’s crushing defeat in the April 29 by-elections.

Both sought to push for the naming of Rep. Kim Moo-sung as floor leader through a compromise, but in the face of strong opposition by former party chief Park, they are said to be pushing for Choi as policy committee chairman as an alternative this time.

A number of lawmakers also say Lee Sang-deuk is influencing the election camp of Hwang Woo-yeo, who is running for floor leader, given that the side includes seven to eight members close to Lee.

Choi reportedly said to his acquaintances, “Rep. Lee strongly recommended it.”

Choi denied such intervention, however, saying, “Rep. Lee’s alleged intervention is groundless. I decided to run for the post out of pure loyalty to the party.”

Party Chairman Park Hee-tae also said, “I never thought about the floor leader election after the plan to invite Kim Moo-sung collapsed.”

Lee Sang-deuk, President Lee’s elder brother who is visiting Japan, was quoted by his aide as saying, “I am strictly neutral. I am not intervening in the election.”

Lee Sang-deuk also called Ahn, who first claimed the role of “invisible hands” Sunday, and said, “I will keep neutral.”

A senior official at the presidential office said, “We understand that Rep. Lee has told people around him that he will not intervene in party issues and focus only on external relations for the time being.”