Go to contents

Will Revamp of Ruling Camp Leadership Achieve Results?

Posted August. 10, 2010 11:22,   


The Cabinet reshuffle Sunday heralds an official start to the third change of the ruling camp’s leadership following personnel shakeups in the ruling Grand National Party and the presidential office.

The question is if the latest leadership of the ruling camp will proceed smoothly in inheriting the merits and demerits of its predecessor, not to mention what changes the Cabinet reshuffle will bring to the relationship among the party, the administration and the presidential office.

○ Gains and losses

Ruling party chairman Ahn Sang-soo asked President Lee Myung-bak to name three to four party lawmakers with good political sense to Cabinet posts. Sunday’s reshuffle can be seen as the president’s response to the request.

Many observers say, however, that the appointment of Lee Jae-oh, President Lee’s right-hand man, as special affairs minister could be both an opportunity and crisis for Ahn. Considering the party’s strong call for a “horizontal” relationship between the party and the presidential office following the ruling party’s defeat in the June 2 local elections, the party can enhance its status by playing along with Lee Jae-oh.

If the center of the gravity pulls toward Lee Jae-oh, however, Ahn’s status as party chief could be undermined.

Hong Joon-pyo, a member of the party’s supreme council who has clashed with Ahn over naming figures to key party posts, is also paying keen attention to Lee Jae-oh’s appointment.

“Hong’s biggest political rival is not Ahn but Lee (Jae-oh),” one of Hong’s close aides said. “For the time being, Lee (Jae-oh) will likely bet everything on the party’s policy committee for low-income people.”

Another supreme council member, Chung Doo-un, is considered a “beneficiary” of the latest Cabinet reshuffle. Prime Minister-designate Kim Tae-ho is close to a faction backing President Lee led by Chung.

Culture, Sport and Tourism Minister-nominee Shin Jae-min and Government Legislation Minister-designate Chung Sun-tae are also close to Shin. Analysts say Chung’s proposal for giving more power to the new Cabinet is probably related to such confidence.

Supreme council member Suh Byung-soo, the only leading member of the pro-Park Geun-hye faction named to the Cabinet, urged the party’s leadership to reflect on whether it has met the call for intra-party unity. This comment is seen as his complaint over the shrinking power of his faction.

○ Pres. Lee’s men at the forefront

One of the salient points of the Cabinet reshuffle is the forward deployment of President Lee’s closest aides, with the chief executive putting his “political comrades” in charge of state management for the second half of his term.

Each of them is in charge of major issues that will probably determine the final evaluation of the Lee administration.

Education Minister-designate Lee Joo-ho, the main architect of the president’s education policy, is tasked with coherently implementing the policy while coordinating potential disharmony with elected education superintendents. Culture Minister-nominee Shin will be tasked with strengthening public communication and relations capabilities, which are considered among the administration’s weak points.

Chin Soo-hee, health and welfare minister-designate, is expected to supervise policies designed for low-income people, one of the most important tasks in the second half of the administration’s term, while Bahk Jae-wan, labor minister-designate, will seek to create jobs.

○ Can the old and new cooperate?

How well the administration handles teamwork is attracting attention. Most of the new Cabinet members are in their 40s and 50s, while most of those who survived the reshuffle are in their 60s.

In addition, the previous Cabinet was led by professional bureaucrats except the ministers of public administration and security, unification and gender equality. Members of the new Cabinet, however, have stronger political backgrounds so how the old and new members will mix is another major issue.