Senior officials of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP), composed of liberal opposition parties, raise their fists during an event to launch a joint preparation committee for next month’s parliamentary elections. From left in front are UPP leaders Cho Joon-ho, Lee Jung-hee, Shim Sang-jung and Rhyu Si-min. / Yonhap
By Lee Tae-hoon
Rep. Lee Jung-hee, co-chairwoman of the minor opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), forecast a rosy outlook for the April 11 National Assembly elections, amid growing controversy over her winning a primary.
Lee said she was willing to hold another primary for the Gwanak constituency in Seoul, where she was picked as a unified candidate over a contender from the Democratic United Party (DUP).
A senior member from her camp sent text messages urging party members to lie about their ages _ saying they were in their 20s and 30s _ to increase the chances of participating in a phone survey, based on which the UPP agreed to field unified candidates.
Nevertheless, she said that her party is sailing smoothly to become a parliamentary negotiating group.
“Our party estimates that we will clinch about 30 parliamentary seats, including the ones given under the proportional representative system, and become a parliamentary negotiating group without much difficulty,” Rep. Lee Jung-hee, co-chairwoman of the UPP, said in a radio interview Tuesday.
Roh Hoi-chan, UPP spokesman, said he is also confident that his leftist party will manage to win in at least 15 of the electoral districts and secure several more through the proportional system, which allocates uncontested parliamentary seats to parties in proportion to the number of votes they gain through direct voting.
“Once the UPP becomes a parliamentary negotiating body, it will bring an epoch-making change to the National Assembly, which has long been governed by two parties,” he said.
The National Assembly currently only recognizes the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) as negotiating bodies as the law stipulates that a political party must secure at least 20 seats to qualify for it.
None of the far-left leaning parties have thus far succeeded in becoming an Assembly negotiating group.
The UPP, which is known for far left-leaning and pro-North Korean policies, currently holds seven of the 299 seats in the unicameral Assembly.
Many of the UPP officials do not acknowledge North Korea’s invasion of South Korea and have been demanding the withdrawal of the free trade agreement with the United States, which has been implemented since March 15.
Observers say the UPP was the biggest beneficiary of an open primary with the DUP as the minority party won in 11 of 76 constituencies over the main opposition party for next month's elections.
Co-leaders Lee, Shim Sang-jung, and Roh as well other well-known political figures including Cheon Ho-sun, a former presidential spokesman for the late President Roh Moo-hyun, won against DUP candidates in the primaries.
야권 단일후보 경선에서 서울 관악을 후보로 확정된 통합진보당 이정희 대표는 20일 경선과정에서 발생한 여론조사 조작 의혹에 대한 책임을 지고 재경선을 하겠다고 밝혔다.
이 대표는 기자회견을 열어 "선거캠프의 두 상근자가 당원에게 여론조사 응답시 20∼30대로 응답하라는 내용의 문자 메시지를 보낸 게 사실로 확인됐다"며 "여론조사 결과에 변동을 일으킬 정도의 행위라 확언할 수 없으나 민주당 후보인 김희철 의원이 경선결과에 영향이 있다고 판단한다면 재경선하겠다"고 말했다.
이 대표는 이어 "재경선 방식과 시기와 절차에 대해서는 모두 경선관리위원회에서 결정하는 대로 따르겠다"고 밝혔다.
그는 또 "후보자로서 제 동료들이 불미스러운 일을 한 데 대해 이유와 경위를 불문하고 깊이 사과한다. 당연히 관련자 문책이 뒤따라야 한다고 본다"며 "관악을 지역굴 야권연대 정신이 훼손되지 않기 바란다"고 덧붙였다.
그는 사퇴 주장에 대해 "대표 차원에서 조직적으로 개입한 것은 아니다"라며 "두사람의 과욕으로 일어난 일이다. 대표로서 도의적 책임을 지는 게 맞지만, 주민 의사를 물을 수 있는 방식으로 책임지는 게 적절하다고 본다"고 말했다.