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Main opposition party mired in internal feud ahead of local elections

Politics 10:15 May 26, 2022

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) -- With the local elections less than a week away, the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) has found itself battering with an internal feud amid concerns the infighting may hinder its chances in the elections.

The turmoil began earlier this week when the DP's co-interim chief Park Ji-hyun promised self-reflection and called for a sweeping reform of the party in a press conference aimed at drumming up support ahead of the local elections.

The 26-year-old upped the ante Wednesday after she called for a "beautiful exit" of party members belonging to so-called "Generation 586," which refers to people who are in their 50s, went to university in the 1980s and were born in the 1960s.

Park Ji-hyun, co-interim chief of the main opposition Democratic Party, speaks at a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul on May 24, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

"In order to regain the trust of the people, we should discuss the retirement of politicians in 'Generation 586,'" Park said during the party's election committee meeting. "Our party must say goodbye to the politics of fandom, while recovering the politics of the public."

But her remarks sparked anger from the DP leadership and veteran politicians who fall into the generation, with some criticizing Park for not consulting with the party before talking publicly about party reform.

"Park's remarks are her personal opinion for the party's reform and advancement," said DP spokesperson Shin Hyun-young. "However, we must fully consider how sincere it will look to the people if we rush to show self-remorse before the elections."

Park Ji-hyun (L), co-interim chief of the main opposition Democratic Party, attends an election committee meeting of the party at the National Assembly in Seoul on May 25, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

But others supported Park for making forthright advice.

"We gave that position to Park so that she can speak straight about our party's situation, not because we expected political maneuvering from her," said Rep. Park Yong-jin of the DP. "It was a youthful, courageous statement."

The ruling People Power Party (PPP), meanwhile, hopes it can benefit from the DP's internal feud in the upcoming elections, with some of them slamming the DP for not listening to the young leader's advice.

"The DP said it will reform, but at the same time, it is showing a double act of blocking discussion of internal problems," PPP floor leader Rep. Kweon Seong-don wrote on his Facebook page. "The DP recruited Park before the presidential election to get votes from women in their 20s and 30s, but now it is trying to abandon her."


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