Saenuri split in fresh feud over ballot rules
By Kang Hyun-kyung
The ruling Saenuri Party is divided over which body should manage the team to set the rules for selecting a presidential candidate, igniting a new war of words between supporters of frontrunner Park Geun-hye and three other hopefuls.
Members of the decision-making Supreme Council showed no signs of reaching a consensus on the issue on Monday.
Park loyalists argued that the Supreme Council should handle the debate, whereas Rep. Shim Jae-chul representing the voices of rival contenders Reps. Chung Mong-joon, Lee Jae-oh and Governor of Gyeonggi Province Kim Moon-soo, called for a body supervised by the chairman to discuss the rules.
These three candidates urged the leadership to introduce new regulations that would allow an open ballot where citizens cast votes to select the ruling party’s presidential candidate.
Five of the six Supreme Council members are pro-Park. Four-term lawmaker, Shim Jae-chul, is the only one representing the vested interests of the other candidates.
Saenuri Party spokesman Kim Young-woo told reporters that the two sides extended the meeting in an attempt to find common ground.
But he said the gap between the two sides is so wide that it will take time for the ruling party to agree on a team to eventually decide the rules of the ballot.
During the meeting, Chairman Hwang Woo-yea was quoted as saying that the Supreme Council will need to oversee the presidential candidate election rules debate, despite mounting calls from the three other presidential bidders to establish a body supervised by the party chairman to take over the job.
The three minor candidates oppose this, as they believe the sweeping pro-Park lineup will make it difficult for the Supreme Council to make a fair and independent decision on primary rules.
Shim proposed a public debate to discuss the pros and cons of an open ballot.
Meanwhile, Park loyalists accused the three minor presidential bidders of demanding that the rules be changed.
Lee Hye-hoon alleged that the three are ignoring citizens and party members because they deny the authority of the Supreme Council members who were chosen by them. “They are saying the council has no authority to oversee the primary rules debate just because they don’t like the body,” she said.
Rep. Yoo Ki-june pointed out the drawbacks of holding an open ballot.
The lawmaker said it would be vulnerable to “reverse selection” and it would also cost a lot of money to mobilize and hold the contest.
Like Yoo, opponents of an open primary have raised the possibility of distorted results because supporters of rival parties would attempt to participate in the vote and intentionally select a weaker candidate to benefit their own representative for the presidential race.