|Ahn Cheol-soo listens to a lecture by former Dongyang University professor Chin Joong-kwon at Hi Seoul Youth Hostel in Seoul, Sunday, during an event to launch a preparation committee to set up a new political party. Yonhap|
By Kim Rahn
New political parties will be set up ahead of the April 15 general election, mainly by conservative and centrist politicians who say they will hold the Moon Jae-in administration and the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) in check.
Former presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo and his aides, including seven lawmakers, officially launched a preparation committee for a new party, Sunday.
They have named the new party the "People Party," and said they aim to achieve "pragmatic and centrist politics."
Ahn initially planned to name it "Ahn Cheol-soo's New Party," but the National Election Commission refused to allow this, saying a name using a specific person's full name could be construed as pre-electioneering and voters may confuse Ahn and the party's candidates for their constituencies.
This is the fourth time for the entrepreneur-turned-politician to establish a party or be named a co-leader ― the New Politics Alliance for Democracy in 2014, a predecessor of the current ruling Democratic Party of Korea; the centrist People's Party in 2016 ahead of the general election that year; and the Bareunmirae Party in 2018 when he merged the People's Party with the center-right Bareun Party.
Ahn's group plans to finish preparations within this month and officially launch the party March 1.
|Rep. Yoo Seong-min of the minor opposition New Conservative Party announces his plan to seek a merger of his party with the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, during a press briefing at the National Assembly, Sunday. Yonhap|
In the meantime, Rep. Yoo Seong-min of the New Conservative Party, a breakaway group from the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party, said he would seek to join his party with the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) to form a united front of conservatives against the Moon administration.
So far he has been reluctant to participate in the talks to create a "big tent" of conservative groups, although some of his party members have been involved in the negotiations.
"I'll follow (the) people's order for conservatives to unite, be reborn, retake power in the general and presidential elections and save Korea from a ruinous crisis," Yoo said in a press briefing at the National Assembly, Sunday.
Yoo said the unification would be realized by the LKP and his party jointly creating a new party, not by his party being absorbed into the larger LKP.
He added he would not run in the general election and seek any leadership position in the new party to show his full devotion to the reform of conservatism.