Npad read­ies for chair­man elec­tion, con­ven­tion

JoongAng Daily - - National - BY SER MYO-JA my­oja@joongang.co.kr

The race for chair­man of the largest op­po­si­tion party kicked off this week as law­mak­ers from the New Pol­i­tics Al­liance for Democ­racy (NPAD) be­gan pre­par­ing the rules of the game.

The party will hold its con­ven­tion on Feb. 8. A prepara­tory com­mit­tee for the lead­er­ship elec­tion was launched on Mon­day.

While it re­mains to be seen who will reg­is­ter as a can­di­date, it is highly an­tic­i­pated that Rep. Moon Jae-in, who was nar­rowly de­feated by Park Geun-hye in the 2012 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, will join the race.

The new chair­man would over­see the coun­try’s largest op­po­si­tion party, with 130 law­mak­ers.

“We have time un­til the year’s end,” Moon told law­mak­ers on Mon­day in re­sponse to spec­u­la­tion about a pos­si­ble chair­man­ship bid.

“After the prepara­tory com­mit­tee de­cides the elec­tion rules, I will think more se­ri­ously about whether or not to run.”

Party of­fi­cials, how­ever, stated that it is an ac­cepted fact that Moon will run for the NPAD chair­man­ship, cit­ing an ear­lier in­ter­view he had with the JoongAng Ilbo.

Last week, Moon de­clared an end to pol­i­tics cen­tered on the NPAD’s old Roh Moo-hyun fac­tion, which was crit­i­cized for hin­der­ing the party’s ef­forts to re­form. Asked if his own pol­i­tics will start with the party con­ven­tion, Moon said, “You can count on it.”

Moon was the clos­est con­fi­dant to the late Pres­i­dent Roh and a key leader of the group formed of Roh loy­al­ists.

While party mem­bers largely ex­pect him to be a key con­tender, the rules of the elec­tion have yet to be de­cided. Moon sup­ports the cur­rent sys­tem, in which the party chair­man is de­ter­mined sep­a­rately from the elec­tion for Supreme Coun­cil mem­bers.

Rep. Chung Sye-kyun, a se­nior politi­cian who is ex­pected to run for the chair­man­ship, also said he sup­ports the cur­rent sys­tem.

In a re­cent ra­dio in­ter­view, Chung said chang­ing the rules ev­ery time there is a lead­er­ship elec­tion was in­dica­tive of a hid­den agenda. “Do­ing the best within the ex­ist­ing frame­work is good pol­i­tics,” he said.

Rep. Park Jie-won, a veteran op­po­si­tion party mem­ber whose pri­mary support bloc is older gen­er­a­tion vot­ers, said it was bet­ter for the NPAD to elect a chair­man who did not have as­pi­ra­tions for the pres­i­dency.

“When a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date leads the party, he will be dam­aged be­fore the elec­tion,” Park said. “For the party to win the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, it is bet­ter to sep­a­rate the two.”

While Park’s ar­gu­ment was sup­ported by a few, it’s pos­si­ble that the politi­cians who are not part of the Roh fac­tion could cre­ate an al­liance to de­ter Moon.

Some worry that if Moon wins the chair­man­ship, nom­i­na­tions for the 2016 leg­isla­tive elec­tions and the pri­mary for the 2017 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion would largely be in the hands of the Roh fac­tion.

The party se­lected 20 mem­bers for the com­mit­tee who will over­see prepa­ra­tion for the party con­ven­tion and de­ter­mine the rules of the elec­tion. Among the 20, three are clearly Moon sup­port­ers.

Se­lect­ing re­gional chap­ter lead­ers, who have a large in­flu­ence on party del­e­gates, is also a thorny is­sue. The party an­nounced the heads se­lected for 213 re­gional chap­ters out of 246.

While seated law­mak­ers largely main­tained their posts as re­gional chap­ter lead­ers, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kang Dong-won, for­merly a mem­ber of the Uni­fied Pro­gres­sive Party (UPP), was not ap­pointed this time to head the dis­trict chap­ter of Nam­won and Sun­chang in North Je­olla.

In­stead, the post was awarded to for­mer Rep. Lee Kang-rae, who was de­feated by Kang in the con­stituency.

Kang com­plained bit­terly about the decision, claim­ing the party had no in­ten­tion to re­form.

A spe­cial ad­viser to Moon was se­lected as the head of the Seoul’s Gwanak B chap­ter. Jeong Tae-ho, a for­mer spokesman dur­ing the Roh ad­min­is­tra­tion, will over­see the dis­trict.

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