Grand National Party chief Park Geun-hye on Tuesday hinted at a sweeping change of rules in the ruling party’s nomination of candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
“All members of the GNP, including me, will have to give up all their vested rights in the process,” the female politician said in a radio address.
“I don’t think that we could regain trust from voters through superficial reforms. We have to change not just the package, but the content, and end old-time politics once and for all.”
The remarks came as the party’s emergency leadership council pushes to formulate a set of new rules based on which the party will select its candidates for the April 11 vote.
Pyo Chul-min (left), a 26-year-old CEO of a computer game company, walks alongside Lee Jun-seok, another 26-year-old CEO of an education venture, on route to a meeting of Grand National Party leaders. Pyo was named an adviser to the party while Lee is a member of its emergency leadership council. (Yonhap News)
Local media reported Tuesday that the leaders are studying a proposal that would drop unpopular incumbents from its list of potential candidates. Incumbent lawmakers whose approval ratings are more than 5 percentage points below that of the party could get the axe, they said. The party is to administer polls later this month for that purpose, they said.
The news jolted incumbent lawmakers. Some said if the rules are applied, nearly half of them will be stripped of a chance to seek re-election. The 5 percentage point bar would be tough to meet for representatives from South and North Gyeongsang provinces, the party’s traditional support base, they said.
Yonhap News disclosed a document, purportedly produced by the party’s think tank, detailing the proposal.
It said the party should form the candidate-selection committee with only non-party figures, and ensure its independence from intra-party politics.
Rep. Park and other members of the council are pushing for drastic reforms, including a personnel shakeup, in order to rescue the ruling party and eke out a victory in the general elections.
Two key members of the leadership had called for old-guard members and those close to President Lee Myung-bak to give up running in the general elections, claiming that they should take responsibility for the trouble that the GNP is in. The pro-Lee faction fired back, demanding the two councilors be ousted.
News media polls released earlier in the week revealed a widespread anti-incumbent sentiment among voters, which the liberal opposition is benefiting from. In one of the surveys, candidates of the main opposition Democratic Unified Party were seen crushing GNP candidates in all provinces and cities, except Rep. Park’s home turf of Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province.
The parliamentary vote is widely expected to affect the ensuing presidential race at the end of the year. Park, considered the conservatives’ best shot at the presidency, is trailing Ahn Cheol-soo, a venture entrepreneur-turned professor, in polls.
By Lee Sun-young (email@example.com)