|Rep. Won Yoo-chul, leader of the Future Korea Party (FKP), announces that the party will complete a merger with its "parent party," the main opposition United Future Party, by May 29, after the FKP's Supreme Council meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul, Friday. Yonhap|
UFP to form emergency committee for reform after election defeat
By Jung Da-min
The main opposition United Future Party (UFP) and its satellite Future Korea Party (FKP) will complete the process of their merger by the end of this month, according to FKP leader Rep. Won Yoo-chul, Friday.
The early merger decision was different from Won's initial plan to remain separate and continue his leadership until the end of August before the new 21st National Assembly has its first regular session. He was forced to make the decision to merge following mounting criticism from both UFP and FKP members who said Won was prioritizing his own personal interests.
"We decided to cancel the previous plan to hold a party convention on May 26 to extend the terms of the FKP leaders, and to complete the merger with the UFP by May 29," Won said after the FKP's Supreme Council meeting at the National Assembly. The new Assembly starts May 30.
The UFP created the FKP in February to get more seats in the April 15 general election under a new electoral system aimed to boost minor parties in the proportional representation vote. While the UFP participated in the constituency vote only, some UFP members moved to the FKP and participated in the proportional representation vote only. The UFP and the FKP each gained 84 and 19 seats, taking up 103 seats out of the 300-strong Assembly.
When creating the satellite party, the main opposition bloc said the parties would merge again once the election was over, but the FKP leaders have been reluctant to do so, seeking to put it off and extend their terms by holding a party convention on May 26.
Political watchers said the FKP leaders seemed to have been mulling over other political gains, such as forming a separate negotiation body in the upcoming 21st Assembly. Won denied such speculations saying they were "100 percent" sure the parties would merge but the timing of it could be flexible.
His stance, however, drew criticism both within and outside the party, with the UFP's new floor leader Rep. Joo Ho-young saying the merger should be completed as soon as possible as voters cast their ballots thinking the two parties were one. In a workshop on Thursday, newly elected UFP members adopted a resolution to seek an "unconditional" merger with the FKP by May 29, and some FKP members also declared they would not carry out party affairs until the merger is made.
Along with the FKP leaders' "surrender" to such criticism by agreeing on the early merger, the UFP also concluded a long-delayed plan to launch an emergency committee for reform following its crushing defeat in the general election. Through a vote on Friday, the lawmakers-elect of the UFP decided to request Kim Chong-in, a veteran economist and politician who headed the party's election strategy committee, to head the emergency committee.
|Rep. Joo Ho-young, floor leader of the main opposition United Future Party, speaks during a party workshop at the National Assembly in Seoul, Friday. The party decided to form an emergency committee and appoint Kim Chong-in, a co-head of its election committee for the April 15 general election, to lead the emergency committee for reform. Yonhap|
"We have decided to appoint Kim as the head of the party's emergency committee and guarantee his term until next year's by-elections, with an overwhelming number of votes supporting it," Joo said, not elaborating how many members voted for it. Next year's by-election is set to be held in April.
The appointment came despite opposition from some UFP members, as Kim had said he would accept the position only when he was granted "enough" time to get the party prepared for the 2022 presidential election, which means he would continue to lead the UFP after the party holds its planned convention around July or August to select a new party chairman and other Supreme Council members.