Ruling S. Korean Party to Drop 'Conservative'

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The interim emergency committee of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) has allegedly decided to shed the expression “conservatism,” causing heated debate within the party ahead of the general election in April.

The proposal comes at a time when the GNP is experiencing a factional feud between the newly launched leadership committee and certain lawmakers over various issues, including nomination rules for the election and the scope of an investigation into recent allegations of cash-for-votes in electing the party chairman.

A member of a sub-subcommittee in charge of amending the party platform said Wednesday that it had drawn up a draft outline of a new party platform which eliminates the word “conservatism.” It also planned on submitting the new position to the emergency committee for approval after discussions.

However, the sub-subcommittee soon backed off following a severe backlash from lawmakers.

“We haven’t decided on removing the word conservatism from the party platform yet. It will take at least two to three weeks as we have to gather opinions from others,” said Rep. Kwon Young-jin, head of party platform reform. “There is no draft outline.”

The emergency committee will decide on the matter after the three-day Lunar New Year holidays starting Jan. 22.

The outline was also allegedly going to delete the expressions “against populism” and “advancement” to cope with the GNP’s new policies on public welfare.

Rep. Park Geun-hye, chairwoman of the emergency committee, earlier announced a welfare policy which aims to meet the needs of people in different age brackets and income levels.

The party platform was last revised under Park’s leadership in 2006.

The proposal made by the committee to revamp its pro-rich image ahead of the general election is facing strong opposition from some lawmakers who consider “conservatism” as the core value sustaining the 14-year-old party.

“The problem is not the GNP being a conservative party. What matters is that the GNP has failed to stand up for the right conservatism,” said Rep. Chun Yu-ok.

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