January 16, 2012 13:36
Former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook was elected leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party at its first national convention on Sunday. Han won 24.05 percent of the votes, defeating runner-up Moon Sung-keun, who garnered 16.68 percent.
The resurgence of Han, who was prime minister under former President Roh Moo-hyun, and Moon, a central figure among Roh's supporters, is seen as a sign of the resurgence of the pro-Roh faction. The DUP is the result of a recent merger of the Democratic Party with a couple of minor outfits.
According to the party vote based on ballots cast by mobile phones (70 percent) and a vote by party representatives (30 percent), Park Young-sun, one of the candidates for Seoul mayor, came in third with 15.74 percent and joins the DUP's supreme committee. Party heavyweight Park Jie-won also joins the committee after garnering 11.97 percent, as does Lee In-young, who had the support of former DP leader Sohn Hak-kyu but scored only 9.99 percent.
Kim Boo-kyum, who is challenging the ruling Grand National Party for a seat in South Gyeongsang Province, was also elected to the supreme committee with 8.09 percent.
The DUP’s leadership is to guide the party through the April general election and December presidential election. It is seen as the most formidable line-up of lawmakers in the history of the much-renamed opposition party. Han and Park plan to put the top priority on reforming the state prosecution, which has been accused of bending to political pressure in selecting targets of certain investigations. Moon has vowed to seek to impeach President Lee Myung-bak should the DUP win the general election.
All members of the new leadership have pledged to support small and mid-sized businesses, even threatening to "dismantle" big conglomerates. The leadership has also vowed to increase taxes for the top 1 percent of the income bracket as well as big businesses. The party's policies are expected to swerve further to the left to stress strengthened welfare policies as it intensifies its battle against the conservative ruling party.
The resurgence of the pro-Roh faction and ouster of the old guard from the opposition stronghold of South Jeolla Province is expected to bring significant changes to the selection of future candidates and policies.
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