Saenuri's new leadership
Ruling party should continue reforms
The ruling Saenuri Party elected Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, a five-term lawmaker, as its new chairman during a national convention held in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province, Tuesday. Hwang, 65, will lead the party through the Dec. 19 presidential election with four other newly-elected Supreme Council members.
Hwang had huge backing from the supporters of Park Geun-hye, the party’s strongest presidential contender, capitalizing on his hometown of Incheon. Park, who led the party’s interim emergency committee for five months, is known to enjoy less popularity in the Seoul metropolitan area and her supporters want a figure from the region to lead the party.
With the Saenuri Party completing the creation of a new leadership, Park will now launch a fresh bid for presidency.
Hwang has many daunting tasks in the run-up to the presidential election. First of all, he has to manage the party’s primary to pick its presidential candidate in a fair and clean way. That is, he should stake his political life to completing the primary without problems so that the presidential candidate ― Park is most likely at the moment ― can focus on the election campaign.
He also must show his ability in making the primary draw public attention because a lackluster poll may dent the party’s aim for renewal. It’s commonly known that the Saenuri Party’s primary might spark little interest because Park is far ahead of other contenders. In contrast, the opposition camp has lots of elements to arouse people’s curiosity because the result is hard to predict; and Ahn Cheol-soo, a medical doctor-turned-IT guru, may emerge at the last minute.
In his acceptance speech, Hwang said he will give top priority to ensuring integration and reconciliation in the party. This shows that the road to reconciliation will be tough as the post-convention party consists mostly of pro-Park figures. As a matter of fact, three of the four elected Supreme Council members are close to Park. Lee Han-koo, a four-term lawmaker and a close confidant to Park, was chosen as the party’s new floor leader last week. Furthermore, rumors have it that the post of new secretary general will also go to a pro-Park figure.
On Wednesday, factional strife hit the governing party prematurely as Park’s opponents urged the party to adopt an ``open primary’’ system. Under the current primary rules, the Saenuri Party’s presidential candidate is determined based on a combination of votes ― half from party members and the other half from ordinary citizens. But other presidential contenders call for determining the winner based entirely on votes from ordinary citizens, arguing that the current regulations are favorable to Park.
The governing party will have to continue broad-based reforms and try to get closer to people to win the December presidential election.