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(2nd LD) Main opposition party to merge with 2 minor parties ahead of April elections

All News 18:32 February 13, 2020

(ATTN: Updates with new info in 3rd para)

SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) approved a plan to merge with two minor parties on Thursday in a bid to integrate conservatives ahead of the April parliamentary elections.

The LKP gave the green light to a proposal to merge with the New Conservative Party and Onward for Future 4.0. A committee preparing for the merger is eyeing the launch of a new party on Monday.

"We push to merge with all parties, politicians and civic groups that uphold the Constitution and the principles of the free democracy and the market economy," the party said.

In November, LKP chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn announced an ambitious bid for conservative parties to join forces to seek a win in the April 15 elections.

The New Conservative Party was launched in early January by Rep. Yoo Seong-min and seven other lawmakers who defected from the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party (BP).

Onward for Future 4.0 was created by Rep. Lee Un-ju, a former BP lawmaker.

If the three parties merge, the number of their total lawmakers will rise to 115 in the 295-member National Assembly. The ruling Democratic Party controls 129 seats.

The conservative bloc in South Korean politics has been split, stung by the fallout of the 2017 ouster of scandal-ridden President Park Geun-hye, once a darling of the political right.

Hwang Kyo-ahn, chief of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaks at a party meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on Feb. 13, 2020. (Yonhap)

The committee preparing for the merger decided to set the name of the envisioned party as the Party for Future Integration. The main color representing the party will be millennial pink.

"We've thought that it is important to show the new party will be created by integrating moderate and conservative forces," panel chief Park Hyung-jun said.

The election watchdog, meanwhile, approved the LKP's proposal to establish its affiliated satellite party that only targets parliamentary proportional representation (PR) seats.

The LKP's move is aimed at preventing the party from taking fewer PR seats as new election rules will change the method of distributing PR seats in a way that better reflects votes cast for parties.

The National Election Commission authorized the LKP to register the new party under the name of the Future Liberty Korea Party.

Previously, the watchdog rejected political parties' bid to set up a party having "proportional" in its name. The LKP wanted to establish the Proportional Liberty Korea Party.

Minor parties and politicians are also striving to survive in the April elections through a party merger or creation.

Ahn Cheol-soo, former presidential candidate, is preparing to launch a new party to shore up a pragmatic and middle-of-the-road politics. Ahn defected from the BP early this month.

The BP seeks to marry with the Party for Democracy and Peace (PDP) and the Daeanshin Party, a small party that broke away from the PDP to secure ballots from their support bases in the southwestern Jeolla province.

Members of a committee preparing to merge the main opposition Liberty Korea Party with two minor parties talk during their meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on Feb. 13, 2020. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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