The center-left opposition People’s Party finalized its decision Sunday to merge with the center-right Bareun Party, calling an end to their party after just two years, ready to start anew.
In an all-member vote, which was conducted over three days from Thursday, 73.6 percent of the 53,981 ballots cast supported the proposed merger, while 26 percent opposed, the party’s election committee announced in the party’s last general meeting at the National Assembly. The turnout rate was 20.2 percent.
Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor opposition People’s Party speaks at a party meeting at the National Assembly on Sunday. (Yonhap)
Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo vowed to actively pursue reforms to focus efforts on looking after the livelihoods of the people.
“We are making an unprecedented change in South Korean history. It is the first time two political parties that hold different geographical strongholds will merge,” Ahn said.
“We are setting an example of sincere political harmony. We are determined to create a new party -- capable, young and charming.”
On the differences between the two parties, Ahn explained that was normal.
“Like I said, we are doing something that nobody has done in Korean history. And with our efforts to reduce the gap, we may actually benefit from the differences -- in forming an identity that can embrace various ideas.”
The two parties will finalize their merger process in a joint party convention Tuesday. They have tentatively named the new group the “Bareun Future Party.”
The People’s Party’s final decision came after months of internal disputes over the merger. Fifteen lawmakers opposing the plan quit to create their own political group, Party for Democracy and Peace, last week.
Ahn had proposed the merger plan with the center-right opposition party last year as the party struggled from low support in the wake of the upcoming June gubernatorial and mayoral elections.
But the plan faced strong backlash from opposing members, who said the two parties had different roots and policies. They also denounced the minor opposition Bareun Party as a splinter group of the conservative main opposition Liberty Korea Party -- which rebranded itself from the former Saenuri Party after former President Park Geun-hye was removed from office amid a massive corruption scandal.
The center-left People’s Party was established in February 2016.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)