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GNP upholds floor leader as interim chief in power strife

May 11, 2011 - 19:18 By 배현정
The power struggle within the ruling Grand National Party escalated as the party secretariat decided that the vacant party leader seat is to be filled by the newly-elected floor leader, instead of the designated emergency panel chairman.

“It is best to let the floor leader take over the party leader’s authority and the emergency panel chairman lead the panel,” said the party’s vice secretary-general Chung Hee-soo on Wednesday morning.

Senior lawmakers who met shortly afterwards, also agreed to the suggested plan.

The apparent compromise in fact supported the reformative floor leader over the panel chairman, amid their strife over the party leadership.

The GNP’s leader seat is currently vacant as Ahn Sang-soo, together with Supreme Council members, stepped down last week, fulfilling their earlier pledges following the by-election results.
Grand National Party floor leader Hwang Woo-yea (right) and emergency committee chairman Chung Ui-hwa attend a meeting of the party’s senior lawmakers Wednesday. (Yang Dong-chul/The Korea Herald)

Ahn’s successor is to be elected in the party’s national convention, which is expected to take place in late June or July.

Before leaving, the council formed an emergency panel until a new leadership is established and selected Rep. Chung Ui-hwa as panel chairman.

Their decision, however, was met with a backlash from the newly-elected floor leader Hwang Woo-yea and his reformmined supporters, who claimed that both the panel chairmanship and the temporary party leadership should be taken over by Hwang.

They mostly referred to clause 30 of the party constitution, stating that the floor leader is to act as a proxy for the party leader in cases of emergency or temporary vacancy.

The council, which is now taking responsibility for its failed leadership, is not entitled to designate a substitute body or leader, they also claimed.

The panel, on the other hand, cited clause 68, which entitles the Supreme Council to establish a temporary decision-making body when necessary.

Chung thus rejected the secretariat’s conclusion, claiming that the panel was set to replace the Supreme Council and he the former leader.

“I doubt that the party secretariat has the authority to legally interpret the party constitution,” Chung said.

Hwang, known for his non-factional political stance and legal insight, was elected as new floor leader Friday, beating two prominent competitors who were both considered pro-Lee Myung-bak.

His rise largely bestowed power on a group of junior and reformative lawmakers within the party and also reflected the party’s efforts to break away from factional feuds and win back the public’s trust.

By Bae Hyun-jung (