Conservatives reel from blistering encounters

By Park Han-na
  • Published : Jan 14, 2020 - 16:54
  • Updated : Jan 15, 2020 - 09:17

A day after suffering two painful setbacks, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party ratcheted up its rhetoric toward the liberal ruling camp, condemning almost every bit of President Moon Jae-in’s New Year’s press conference.

Calling the Moon administration “a tyranny,” the party’s spokesperson Jun Hee-kyung said, “How dare the government praise itself when it entered the path of judicial control, public welfare debacle and security breakdown?”

The heightened antagonism appears to reflect bitterness among party leaders after their monthslong campaign to block Moon’s signature reform bills fell through, and the election watchdog put a damper on their strategy for the upcoming April elections. Making the situation worse, a dozen of the party’s lawmakers have declared their intention not to run in the elections, with many expressing frustration with politics.

Hwang Kyo-ahn, chief of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaks during an event The free Korean leader of the Hwangyong-dong is giving encouragement to the new year's society held at the Gyeonggi-do Party of the LKP in Suwon, Tuesday. (Yonhap)

On Monday, the parliament approved a bill to grant police more investigative powers, which completed the institutionalization of President Moon’s top-priority initiative -- state prosecution reform. The governing Democratic Party had secured cooperation from smaller parties for its passage. Outnumbered, Liberty Korea Party lawmakers boycotted the voting session.

Liberty Korea Party Floor Leader Shim Jae-chul criticized the Democratic Party for rushing through the bills.

“The Moon Jae-in government, which made the National Assembly a puppet of the power and a branch office of Cheong Wa Dae, should be judged by the general elections in April,” Shim said.

Another setback the conservative party faced Monday was the National Election Commission’s decision not to approve attempts by political parties to establish affiliated political entities using very similar names.

The election watchdog’s decision frustrated the conservative party’s plan to set up a small affiliated party called the Proportional Liberty Korea Party.

In light of a new proportional representation system designed to give an advantage to minority parties, the Liberty Korea Party saw the creation of an affiliated party as a strategy to secure more parliamentary seats.

The main opposition bloc, while seeking legal action to challenge the election panel’s decision, plans to push ahead with the dual-party strategy with a different name.

To gain the upper hand against liberal parties in the elections, the main opposition has formally launched discussions with the minor New Conservative Party, and the two may decide to unite.

According to New Conservative Party chief Ha Tae-keung, the Liberty Korea Party has accepted his party’s three principles for rebuilding the conservative bloc -- principles set forth by an alliance of conservative groups supporting unity.

Meanwhile, Kim Jung-hoon, a four-term lawmaker within the main opposition party, said Tuesday that he would not seek a fifth term, calling for the party’s senior lawmakers to step down and for the party to make a new start to win back voters before the general elections.

Six-term Rep. Kim Moo-sung, four-term Rep. Han Sun-kyo and two-term Rep. Kim Sung-chan have also publicly announced they will not run in the elections.

By Park Han-na (