DUP in feud over collusion
By Lee Tae-hoon
Former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan and Rep. Park Jie-won of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) clashed with their political rivals Thursday over the allegation that the two political heavyweights had a secret pact for party leadership posts.
The two were on a collision course with their archrivals due to allegations that they agreed to join hands to allow Lee to assume the DUP’s chairmanship and Park its floor leader.
“The two will face an enormous backlash,” Rep. Jun Byung-hun, one of the contenders running for floor leader, told reporters at the National Assembly.
The DUP lawmaker said it was inappropriate for the two to make a closed-door deal over leadership posts that should be filled by holding a fair and transparent election.
He argued that their “collusion” was a complete denial of parliamentary democracy and an indication that Lee and Park seek privileges in becoming leaders of factions made up of followers of the late President Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, respectively.
The DUP plans to elect a floor leader on May 4 and hold the National Convention on June 9 to select a chairperson. Insiders say Lee agreed to support Park to become floor leader, in exchange for his help in the National Convention to select a new party head.
However, the two denied having a secret agreement to share the two top posts, saying they have only agreed to try and eliminate factions in the party.
Lee has a strong support base among politicians who had their heyday under the Roh administration during which he served as prime minister. Meanwhile Park is considered the leader for the followers of the late President Kim as he served as minister of culture and chief of staff.
Lee Nak-yeon, another contender for the floor leader election, said the two breached the party’s regulation that mandated the party’s No. 2 post be filled by an election at a meeting of lawmakers.
President hopefuls, including former chairman Sohn Hak-kyu, also slapped Park and Lee for the alleged collusion.
“It will be seen as act of arrogance in the eyes of the people,” said Sohn, former chairman of the liberal party. “Such a deal will ruin the party and lead us to defeat in the presidential election.”
Some DUP lawmakers acknowledged that their attempt to settle the tension between the Roh and Kim factions should be appreciated, but the move came at a political sensitive time.
“It is hard to understand why the two hopefuls discussed which faction should have a floor leader post, while the other faction gets the chairmanship post,” a senior lawmaker of the party said.
He added that the two are splitting the party instead of settling factional feuds.