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Democratic Party's charter amendment clears leader's path to presidential election

June 17, 2024 - 18:14 By Jung Min-kyung
Democratic Party of Korea Chair Rep. Lee Jae-myung, center, attends a meeting of the party's national committee at the party's headquarters in western Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea on Monday amended the party charter to allow its leadership to choose the term of its chair and supreme council members.

The party’s decision will allow current Democratic Party of Korea Chair Rep. Lee Jae-myung to run for the 2027 presidential election, if he wishes, even if he is reelected as the party chair at the upcoming convention scheduled for Aug. 18.

While the charter states that a party chair or a supreme council member must resign from their leadership positions one year ahead of the presidential election to run for office, the latest decision added another clause that allows the party affairs committee to vote and decide on the timing of the resignation “under special circumstances.”

The change came after the Democratic Party’s national committee voted for a motion to amend the party charter online, in which 422 of 501 participants approved the amendment. Some 84 percent of the 501 participants voted in favor, while 15.7 percent voted against the amendment.

Observers say that Lee is likely to serve a second two-year term as the party chair if reelected until the June 2026 local elections and step down to kick off his campaign ahead of the March 2027 presidential election.

The party also scrapped parts of the charter that suspended the party membership of a lawmaker charged with corruption.

Lee currently faces another legal dispute tied to an unauthorized North Korean remittance case, on top of the three ongoing court battles in which he is currently embroiled.

The Suwon District Prosecutor's Office last week charged Lee with third-party bribery and violation of the Foreign Exchange Transactions Act and Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act. The charges are the latest addition to three ongoing court battles at the Seoul Central District Court regarding allegations of development project-related bribery, election law violations and perjury.