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Ruling Party Factions Still Split Over Sejong City

Posted February. 27, 2010 09:18,   


The ruling Grand National Party’s general gathering on Sejong City ended yesterday after five days of intense debate.

The meeting was considered a bit productive in that it brought the feud between the pro-Lee Myung-bak and pro-Park Geun-hye factions on the negotiating table of the party’s official meeting.

Analysts, however, say the event showed the limitations in efficiency in narrowing the differences over Sejong City between the two factions.

○ Results of party’s longest general gathering

The meeting was held over five days beginning Monday, the longest gathering in the party’s history. As many as 96 lawmakers spoke at the event, and nine made speeches twice. Hence, more than half of the party’s 169 lawmakers expressed individual views on Sejong City.

Rep. Kang Seung-kyu of the pro-Lee faction said, “Since the gathering offered a venue where anyone can speak, I felt a sense of catharsis.”

The two factions failed to agree on Sejong City, but were apparently refraining from getting overly offensive. Pro-Lee lawmakers did not insist too strongly on holding a vote to change the party’s platform, while pro-Park members did not reject the formation of a council of veteran politicians proposed by the party’s leadership.

○ Factions strengthen internal solidarity

Some analysts say the two factions strengthened their solidarity and promoted the strength of their forces through the general gathering.

Pro-Lee Rep. Won Hee-mok said, “Since the inauguration of the Lee Myung-bak administration, the pro-Lee group, which had been loose, showed fairly strong solidarity through the recent gathering.”

Another pro-Lee lawmaker said, “Lawmakers also stepped forward to show who they support, which is one of the achievements from the gathering.”

A pro-Park lawmaker said, “A sense of crisis heightened after Rep. Kim Moo-sung’s compromising proposal surfaced, but the pro-Park group strengthened our solidarity as the gathering helped define our rivalry versus the pro-Lee group.”

Rep. Lee Jung-hyun, the de facto spokesman for the pro-Park group, said, “We feel deep regret over the use of the gathering by certain lawmakers as an opportunity to slander former party leader Park, while lawmakers were forced to define their affiliations to two groups.”

○ Breakthrough for veteran politicians’ council?

Concluding the gathering, the party’s floor leader Ahn Sang-soo said, “After holding consultations with members of the supreme council, including party Chairman Chung Mong-joon, we agreed to postpone a vote on changing the party’s platform, and instead will form a council of veteran politicians to seek a solution.”

Lawmakers entrusted the method of forming the council and agenda to the party leadership.

With the delay in the government’s planned submission of a revision bill to the Sejong City plan from early next month to around March 9, the party plans to form the veteran politicians’ council to seek a compromise.

Rep. Huh Tae-yul of the pro-Park group said, “We have no reason to oppose the offer of veteran politicians getting together and discussing the Sejong City issue,” adding, “By participating in the council, I’ll try to persuade once again the justification for the need to implement the project under the original plan.”

Hence, the council could serve as a new variable to the political landscape, which is being dominated by the Sejong City debate. The party leadership judges that a compromise between the pro-Lee and pro-Park groups will determine the direction of the resolution.

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