How to ignore a committee’s ultimatum

2023. 12. 5. 20:24
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If party seniors still want to enjoy their privileges as in the past, it will backfire.

Leaders of the People Power Party (PPP) have turned its back on the innovation committee’s calls for governing party heavyweights to sacrifice themselves in order to win the next parliamentary election in April. The committee’s proposal that party leaders, lawmakers close to President Yoon Suk Yeol and other senior members run in constituencies other than their home turf in the Yeongnam region to help reenergize the lethargic party was not even submitted to a Supreme Council meeting on Monday.

The suggestion was a de facto ultimatum by innovation committee chair Ihn Yo-han, the naturalized physician who was recruited to reinvent the minority party. A brawl erupted even over whether the committee had asked for a chance to report its recommendations to the party leadership. A member of the Supreme Council criticized party leaders for keeping mum over the innovation committee’s proposals.

The PPP launched the innovation committee to resuscitate itself after its crushing defeat in a Seoul by-election in October. But the effort appears to be in vain. Among the five ideas the committee presented to the leadership, only one — aimed at withdrawing party-imposed censures on former PPP leader Lee Jun-seok and Daegu Mayor Hong Joon-pyo — was endorsed. Rep. Chang Je-won, a pro-Yoon lawmaker, and Rep. Joo Ho-young, a five-term lawmaker, refused to run in districts other than their homegrounds. Instead, party leaders and the committee waged a heated in-house battle. Ihn also triggered controversy with unnecessary comments about his relationship with the president and his self-proposed chairmanship of a committee to nominate candidates for the April 10 general election.

In the meantime, the PPP’s mainstream politicians were buoyed by other members who insisted on winning the election under the leadership of current PPP Chair Kim Gi-hyeon. Rep. Thae Yong-ho, a North Korean defector-turned-lawmaker of the party, joined the chorus by asking, “Could we really win the election by erecting a field tent?”

PPP members who have served in the government also must refrain from running in easy constituencies. Except for Land Minister Won Hee-ryong and former legislator Jun Hee-kyung, the president’s current secretary for political affairs, senior PPP lawmakers want to run in conservative districts. The presidential office and the party say there will be no “strategic nominations” in the parliamentary election. Anyone is free to choose a constituency. But party seniors sticking to their turf will not help the party. If they still want to enjoy their privileges as in the past, it will backfire.

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