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Liberal proportional coalition off rocky start

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

The ruling Democratic Party’s efforts to launch a liberal coalition party to win more parliamentary seats via the new proportional representation system in next month’s general election got off to a rocky start as only minor parties with no seats in the legislature are expected to join.

The Democratic Party said it would bring together all parties seeking to join the coalition by Wednesday, but it is yet to figure out its relationship with minor parties should it decide not to take part and go ahead to field its own candidates, and how to arrange the list of proportional candidates.

Dealing a blow to the Democratic Party’s plan, the Justice Party, which has six seats in the National Assembly, has decided not to join the coalition.

The Green Party Korea said Monday that it would join upon approval from 74.06 percent of its members.

“In addition to the Justice Party and the Party for People’s Livelihoods, we are sounding out parties with policy lines that are not very different from ours, and that can cooperate with us, such as the Green Party Korea, Our Future, the Basic Income Party, Let’s go! Green Party and the Micro Enterprise Party,” Democratic Party Secretary-General Yoon Ho-joong said in a press conference on Sunday.

“The participating parties must be finalized by Wednesday.”

The Democratic Party urged the Party for People’s Livelihoods to inform them of their decision by Monday.

The Democratic Party has also invited groups such as the Political Reform Coalition that have vowed to provide a “platform” to produce liberal proportional lawmakers, but remains undecided about a group that is recruiting its own proportional candidates.

The so-called “Open Minjoo Party,” led by ex-Democratic Party lawmakers, is receiving applications for proportional representation candidacy in the general election.

As the Democratic Party plans to place its proportional candidates low on the list of the coalition’s proportional representation candidates, parties outside the legislature will have one or two candidates each higher on the coalition’s list.

It has not been decided, however, how to arrange the candidates from the minor parties, and how to keep an unqualified person from being placed high on the list.

The main opposition United Future Party blasted the envisioned liberal coalition party as a “horrible mixed-breed,” and criticized key Democratic Party officials who previously rejected the strategy to win more proportional seats.

United Future Party Floor Leader Shin Jae-cheol said during the party’s supreme council meeting Monday that although the Democratic Party was encouraging other parties to join, it would be the same as launching a satellite party, as the Justice Party has refused to take part, and the Party for People’s Livelihoods is passive about it.

Lee Jun-seok, a member of the United Future Party supreme council, said, “This ‘horrible mixed-breed’ forces voters to vote for party interests, instead of policies.”

Reversing from its previous stance that big parties should not set up “paper parties” under the revised electoral system which gives more proportional representation seats to minor parties, the Democratic Party said the decision to form the coalition was made to stop the United Future Party from becoming the majority party.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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