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Opposition parties mired in infighting over merger

All News 17:28 March 07, 2016

SEOUL, March 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's opposition parties on Monday were again at odds over a possible merger ahead of the April general elections that could help their chances of winning more seats.

It's not unusual for political parties to put aside their differences and merge to boost their chances of winning at the polls, but so far headway has been slow.

At stake is whether Ahn Cheol-soo, co-chairman of the minor People's Party, will relent on his position and join hands with other opposition leaders.

Last week, Ahn spurned an offer from the main opposition Minjoo Party to merge their parties.

The offer came more than two months after Ahn quit the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), the main opposition party he co-founded with another lawmaker in 2014, due to internal strife.

The NPAD has since changed its name to the Minjoo Party in an apparent move to improve its image before the general elections in April. Changing a party's name is a common vote-buying tactic, although the members stay the same.

Kim Chong-in, interim leader of the Minjoo Party, pressured Ahn to put aside what he claims is personal selfishness and merge with the Minjoo Party.

Ahn is also under pressure from his own party to merge with the Minjoo Party to keep the ruling Saenuri Party from prevailing in the elections.

Currently, the ruling Saenuri Party controls 157 seats in the 293-member National Assembly, compared to 107 seats held by the main opposition Minjoo Party. Ahn's People's Party has 17 seats.

On Monday, Ahn renewed his opposition to a merger with the Minjoo Party, saying an unconditional merger with the main opposition party is doomed to fail.

Ahn, the founder of the nation's largest anti-virus software firm Ahnlab Co., also said the People's Party already made its decision last week against a merger with Minjoo.


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