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(LEAD) Four-term female lawmaker elected main opposition party's floor leader

All Headlines 17:33 December 11, 2018

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more info, photo throughout)

SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) elected a four-term female lawmaker as its new floor leader on Tuesday amid deepening internal strife ahead of a leadership election next year.

Rep. Na Kyung-won, 55, beat her rival Rep. Kim Hack-yong, a three-term lawmaker, in a tight race to replace incumbent Kim Sung-tae.

Na has become the first female floor leader of a conservative party.

While the candidates were campaigning for party unity, the election was widely viewed as a race riddled with factional division over whether they have ties to former conservative President Park Geun-hye, who was ousted in March 2017 over a corruption scandal.

Na, a big-name politician, is viewed as having no factional ties to Park, but loyalists to Park are said to have supported Na in the floor leader race.

She will be tasked with cementing the party's status as the main opposition and regaining public confidence ahead of the 2020 parliamentary election.

The LKP is still reeling from the fallout of the ousting of former President Park.

Factional strife is also deepening ahead of a leadership election slated for February next year, a crucial event ahead of the parliamentary election.

The public support rate for the LKP has increased in recent weeks in apparent reaction to government policies that have failed to improve the economic slowdown.

The public support rate for the LKP fell 1.7 percentage points to 24.7 percent last week, the first decline in six weeks, data from pollster Realmeter showed.

This photo, taken on Dec. 11, 2018, shows Rep. Na Kyung-won (2nd from L) and Rep. Kim Hack-yong (R), who were vying for the main opposition Liberty Korea Party's floor leadership. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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