Updated March. 21, 2014 04:38
With around 70 days to go before the June 4 local elections, the ruling Saenuri Party has encountered unexpected obstacles in South Chungcheong Province and Daejeon. As the party tried to exclude former members of the Liberty Forward Party from party nomination for the lower-level government race, they began to prepare for running as independent candidates. The move is highly likely to split conservative votes. The ruling party merged the minor Liberty Forward Party in October 2012, right before the presidential election.
First, Han Hyun-taek, head of Dong Ward Office in Daejeon, and Park Yong-gap, head of Jung Ward Office in Daejeon, are leaving the ruling party. The two were elected as Liberty Forward Party candidates in 2010. Their decision to run independently was largely influenced by the partys principle that does not give a benefit to the incumbents. Former Liberty Forward Party members, the minority in the new Saenuri Party, are at a disadvantage in the partys primary where both senior and rank-and-file members compete. Other incumbent city and district heads in Daejeon, former Liberty Forward Party members, could leave the Saenuri Party as well.
Although the South Chungcheong chapter of the Saenuri Party tried to fill half of the pool of senior members who vote on party nominations with former Liberty Forward Party members, the central party nomination committee rejected the idea. A source from the central party nomination committee said on Thursday, My understanding is that the central committee opposed it because the forced allocation of former Liberty Forward Party members could cause a legal dispute.
The Saenuri Party was concerned that a conflict in the party nomination process for lower-level government elections could give a negative impact on mayoral and gubernatorial elections. With conservative camp being unified in Chungcheong area for the first time in local elections, an issue in the nomination of lower-level government elections could disrupt the unity.
Politics is the product of compromise and agreement, and the central party does not take the unique nature of provinces into consideration, said Rep. Kim Tae-heum, who leads the nomination committee of the partys South Chungcheong chapter. We can create synergy by reflecting the spirit of the merger of the two parties in the nomination process for successful elections.