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(LEAD) Splinter group bigwig supports lowering voting age

All News 11:35 January 11, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES headline, lead; ADDS last para)

SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- A presidential hopeful from a conservative splinter party to be launched this month expressed his support on Wednesday for a proposal to allow 18-year olds and overseas Koreans to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Rep. Yoo Seong-min also urged his colleagues within the planned party to set a clear position on the proposed election law revision.

Conservatives have been reluctant to lower the minimum voting age by a year, as polls show the younger generation tends to be more supportive of liberal parties. Accordingly, support from the new group that split from the ruling Saenuri Party is crucial to meet the requirement for the revision to be passed at the parliament.

"Regarding the voting age issue, we caused confusion by initially setting our position and then reversing it. Though some lawmakers are still opposed, I hope the party will come to a clear conclusion on the issue through free votes or other means," Yoo said.

Yoo also urged the party to set its stance on granting more than 2 million overseas Koreans the right to vote in the election this year. Current law allows them to only participate in presidential elections triggered by a presidential vacancy that occurs in 2018 and after.

The planned party, which was earlier tentatively named the New Conservative Party for Reform, adopted Barun (righteous) Party as its official name. It has not yet decided on its official English name.

South Korea may hold an early presidential election, which is originally scheduled for December 2017. If the Constitutional Court upholds the parliamentary impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, the country has 60 days to pick a new leader.

Yoo, meanwhile, said he is considering declaring his presidential bid around the Lunar New Year's holiday later this month. He currently holds a single-digit approval rating in opinion polls.

Rep. Yoo Seong-min, one of potential presidential candidates from a conservative group that spun off from the ruling Saenuri Party. (Yonhap)


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