(LEAD) Rep. Shim Jae-chul elected new floor leader of main opposition party
(ATTN: UPDATES with more details from 9th para; MODIFIES paras 2, 4)
SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) on Monday elected Rep. Shim Jae-chul, a five-term lawmaker, as its new floor leader.
In the party election, Shim garnered 52 out of 106 votes, beating Rep. Kang Seok-ho and Rep. Kim Seon-dong, who received 27 votes each.
Rep. Kim Jae-won, a three-term lawmaker, was also elected as the conservative party's new policy chief.
Shim's election came after two rounds of voting, as none of four contenders won a majority in the first vote. Shim got 39 in the first vote, while Kang and Kim received 28 votes each.
The new floor leader will succeed the outgoing Na Kyung-won, whose one-year term ends Tuesday as the conservative party has decided not to renew her tenure.
Shim, who has been elected five times from a constituency in Anyang on the southern outskirts of Seoul since 2000, is known for his hard-line stance on the Moon Jae-in administration's key policies.
Shim said in his election speech that he won't be "overcome" by anybody from the ruling party.
The new floor leader faces an uphill battle, as the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and other minor parties have been pushing to railroad contentious budget and fast-track bills in the National Assembly.
The 61-year-old Shim, who was born in the liberal-leaning city of Gwangju and majored in English education at Seoul National University, entered politics in 1996 after working for MBC TV as a reporter for a decade. He served as deputy speaker of the National Assembly from 2016 to 2018.
In the runup to the 2017 presidential polls, Shim created a controversy by raising an allegation about an employment favor given to the son of then DP candidate Moon.
He was investigated by prosecutors last year after disclosing details of alleged illicit spending of off-the-book funds by Cheong Wa Dae and other government ministries and agencies.
In September this year, Shim had his head shaved, together with other LKP lawmakers, in protest of Moon's appointment of Cho Kuk as justice minister.
Political analysts say Shim's win seems to reflect LKP lawmakers' intentions to check the power of LKP Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn, who was recently criticized by some party members for being "authoritarian" after deciding not to extend Na's tenure.
Shim is not regarded as close to either Hwang or former President Park Geun-hye. The LKP chief reportedly supported other younger contenders.
"Shim's election seems to suggest that Hwang's bid to replace the party leadership with first- and second-term lawmakers failed," said a ranking lawmaker of the LKP, adding Shim may have earned the majority of the votes due to his image as an aggressive strategist.
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