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People’s Party begins vote of confidence to decide on merger

A four-day vote of confidence began Wednesday for People’s Party Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo to decide on a proposed merger with the center-right Bareun Party.

The vote is being conducted online from Wednesday to Thursday, and by ARS poll for another two days. The People’s Party has about 270,000 members. 

People’s Party Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo (right) and Bareun Party Chairman Yoo Seong-min speak at a conference on political merger at the National Assembly on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
People’s Party Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo (right) and Bareun Party Chairman Yoo Seong-min speak at a conference on political merger at the National Assembly on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The question being posed to members is: “Do you approve or disapprove of Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo who is pushing for a merger of the People’s Party and the Bareun Party?”

The result is expected to be revealed early on Sunday, after the election committee begins counting the votes at 9 a.m. at its headquarters.

While opposing party members held a meeting and continued their boycott of the vote, Ahn participated in a conference on political merger and reform hosted by the Bareun Party.

“For two months, we have discussed the merger but we could not draw out an agreement. So I thought it was important to ask all members of the party, as they are the masters of the party,” Ahn said.

“I have staked my all on this, because I believe the merger can change the history of South Korea.”

Bareun Party chief Yoo Seong-min, who was also at the conference, welcomed Ahn.

“The all-member party vote has begun today and I wish for a positive result,” he said.

Yoo also praised Ahn, saying he has never doubted Ahn’s passion and will to reform South Korea.

Ahn has long pushed for the merger, viewing it as crucial for the party to amass power against the ruling and the main opposition parties in the upcoming local elections slated for June.

Merger talks had split the center-left party for a week, with key-figures such as former Floor Leader Park Jie-won opposing the move. In response, Ahn called for the all-member vote and said he would quit if the ballot goes against him.

If the vote turns out in favor of Ahn, he said he would proceed with the merger process in January and complete the merger by February. A merger would create a 50-strong group, if all 11 lawmakers of Bareun Party and 39 lawmakers of People’s Party join.

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea holds 121 parliamentary seats and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party has 116.

In a Realmeter survey released Tuesday, the People’s Party garnered just 4.9 percent of support from 2,509 respondents, the lowest among the country’s five major political parties and below the Bareun Party’s 5.7 percent. The ruling Democratic Party topped the list with 52 percent, while the Liberty Korea Party posted at 17.8 percent. The Far-left Justice Party received 5.2 percent of support.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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