Ahn Cheol-soo Getting His Lunch Eaten in People's Party Power Struggle?
SEOUL, Dec. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's minor People's Party elected four-term lawmaker Rep. Joo Seung-yong the new floor leader Thursday,
Joo beat two-term lawmaker Rep. Kim Song-sik in the race to succeed Park Jie-won, who stepped down to run for chairman next month. His running mate Rep. Cho Bae-sook was elected the new policy panel chief. They will serve until May next year.
Closely aligned with Park and hailing from the southwestern provinces of Jeolla, the duo's victory is likely to deal a blow to Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, the party's former head, in an unfolding power struggle. Ahn has called on the party to reduce its reliance on traditional regional strongholds and expand its support base across the country.
In his acceptance speech, Joo said the party faces a grave crisis amid dwindling support and political realignment ahead of an early presidential election.
"The People's Party is on the verge of becoming the No. 4 player, and our approval rating keeps falling," Joo said.
A splinter group from the ruling Saenuri Party is poised to become the third largest party after it is officially launched in late January.
Joo noted that the party is losing support even from the traditional bastion of liberals in the southwest.
Before the vote, Joo proclaimed the party should play a central role in uniting moderates in the middle of the road ahead of the election.
"To win the upcoming presidential election, we have to assume a leadership of harmony and communication that can bring together all forces except pro-Park (Geun-hye) and pro-Moon (Jae-in) forces," Joo said.
Moon, former head of the Democratic Party, is one of leading candidates from the opposition bloc. The People's Party was formed by defectors from the Democratic Party.'