Mass defection hits minor opposition, presages centrist realignment

SEOUL About twothirds of the lawmakers of the minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace (PDP) announced their defection Monday, heralding a major political realignment ahead of next years parliamentary elections.

Nine out of 14 PDP lawmakers, including floor leader You Sungyop, quit the No. 4 party en masse after leader Chung Dongyoung rejected their demand that he stand down to allow the party to establish ad hoc leadership to create a new party with centrist politicians outside the party.

Another lawmaker, who officially belongs to the thirdlargest Bareunmirae Party but has been active in the PDP, also tendered her resignation from her party post.

The 10 lawmakers pledged to create a new middleoftheroad party to challenge the domination of the two largest liberal and conservative parties.

We are setting out to explore a new alternative to reconstruct Korean politics, they said in a statement read in a news conference at the National Assembly.

They accused the ruling Democratic Party and the opposition Liberty Korea Party of disregarding peoples sufferings and only seeking to maintain their vested interests.

But the centrist forces lack the capability to represent people disappointed with the two parties, they said.

We will bring together the divided and disordered thirdparty ranks and turn them into a sound and healthy political force and will serve as priming water for the construction of a new alternative party, they said.

You said they will launch a preparatory organization for a new party soon.

They are widely expected to join forces with some liberal members of Bareunmirae, which also faces bitter factional infighting, to create a new party by November and prepare for the general elections scheduled for April.

Bareunmirae, which has 28 lawmakers, was created in February 2018 from the merger of two centrist parties the Peoples Party and the Bareun Party. Some Peoples Party members who opposed the merger launched the PDP in the same month.

Later in the afternoon, another legislator, Kim Kyungjin, announced his intention to quit the PDP. He vowed to run in the April election as an independent and then join a party his supporters would like.

Their defection will leave the PDP with only four lawmakers, ranking fifth after the leftist Justice Party, which holds six parliamentary seats.

PDP leader Chung sharply criticized the defectors, especially veteran politician Park Jiewon, who is regarded as their de facto leader. Chung declared that the party is now free from outdated ways of politics, which he said pursue factional gains over causes and justice.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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