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(LEAD) Senior LKP lawmaker says he will not run in next year's election

All Headlines 20:02 November 17, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more details in last 3 paras; UPDATES photo)

SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- A three-term lawmaker of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) said Sunday that he will not run in next year's parliamentary elections, amid flagging public support for his conservative party.

Rep. Kim Se-yeon made the announcement, calling for the current LKP leadership to step down and for the party to make a new start to win back the hearts of the voters before the general elections slated for April 15.

"With the current state of the party, it cannot win in the general elections, let alone the next presidential election," Kim, representing a constituency in the southeastern city of Busan, told reporters.

"The party should start anew from scratch," he added.

Rep. Kim Se-yeon of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party speaks during a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul on Nov. 17, 2019. (Yonhap)

His remarks reflected a growing sense of crisis within the party, whose support ratings have continued to fall despite recent political setbacks for the liberal Moon Jae-in administration, such as the resignation of Justice Minister Cho Kuk over corruption allegations involving his family.

In a Gallup Korea poll released Friday, public support for the LKP was tallied at 21 percent, a decrease of 2 percentage points from a week earlier, compared with 40 percent for the ruling Democratic Party.

"Public support for the LKP has never surpassed that of the Democratic Party even once. ... Since the Cho Kuk incident, the gap has rather been quickly widening," Kim said. "That is the reality."

Apart from Kim, first-term Rep. You Min-bong and two-term Rep. Kim Sung-chan have publicly announced they will not run in the elections next year. Six-term Rep. Kim Moo-sung also expressed his intention not to join the elections.

Meanwhile, Im Jong-seok, former presidential chief of staff, hinted that he would not run in next year's general elections. In a Facebook post, he said he would depart from establishment politics and focus on efforts for national reunification.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) appeared surprised by Im's message, due to expectations that he may seek to run in Seoul's central Jongno ward in the April 15 parliamentary elections.

Im's move may lead to more calls for political retreat by the so-called 86 group, or those who attended college in the 1980s and were born in the 1960s.

Ahead of the elections, those who argue for political overhaul call for the 86 group to voluntarily give up their privileges and make way for younger colleagues or run in contentious battlegrounds in the election.

This file photo shows Im Jong-seok, former presidential chief of staff. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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