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Rep. Lee Jae-myung stays mum on possible bid for DP leadership

All News 15:13 June 07, 2022

By Kim Na-young

SEOUL, June 7 (Yonhap) -- Rep. Lee Jae-myung of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) was noncommittal Tuesday about whether he will run for the party's chairmanship amid criticism he should take responsibility for the DP's defeat in last week's local elections.

Lee led the DP through local elections and by-elections as its campaign chief despite his defeat in March's presidential election, but the party suffered a crushing loss, only winning five out of 17 key races for big city mayors and provincial governors and two out of seven parliamentary seats.

But Lee himself was elected to the National Assembly in one of the by-election races as he ran for a seat representing a pro-DP district in Incheon, west of Seoul, which was vacated after former DP Chairman Song Young-gil quit to run for Seoul mayor.

Since the election defeat, the DP's interim leaders have resigned en masse to take responsibility, and the party plans to select a new interim chief who will lead the party until a new chairman is elected at the national convention planned for August.

Asked whether he will run for the DP's next leadership, Lee refused to give a direct answer, saying there is still "a lot of time left until the national convention."

"I am listening hard to opinions from the public, DP members and our supporters with modesty," Lee said on calls he should also take responsibility for the election loss.

Rep. Lee Jae-myung of the main opposition Democratic Party answers reporters' questions on his way to his office in the National Assembly complex in Seoul on June 7, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Rep. Lee Jae-myung of the main opposition Democratic Party answers reporters' questions on his way to his office in the National Assembly complex in Seoul on June 7, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Some DP lawmakers have openly criticized Lee, saying the party lost the elections partly because of him, and claimed Lee should not become the DP's next leader in the party's national convention.

Rep. Hong Young-pyo on Monday claimed Lee should not have led the DP's election campaign, which came only three months after he lost in the presidential election against President Yoon Suk-yeol.

"I believe there is a general assessment that Rep. Lee Jae-myung's bid for a seat in Incheon's Gyeyang district and Song Young-gil's bid for Seoul mayoralty played a crucial role in the party's election loss," Hong said during a radio interview with KBS.

Rep. Lee Sang-min also said "it is improper for Lee to declare his bid in the national convention in terms of politics of responsibility," in a radio interview with YTN on Tuesday morning.

In contrast, some other lawmakers supported Lee, saying he has the biggest influence among DP politicians, and thus, should become the liberal party's next leader.

"It will be weird if Lee, who has one of the biggest political assets, does not run (for the chairmanship) when the party is falling apart," Rep. Min Hyung-bae, working to return to the DP since his departure in April, has told MBC radio.

"I think the basic consensus is that a person with the greatest power to win the public vote should lead the party as a general election is coming in two years," another DP lawmaker told Yonhap News Agency over phone on the condition of anonymity.

The main opposition Democratic Party's interim committee announces their decision to step down from their posts to take responsibility for the previous day's local elections in a news conference at the National Assembly in Seoul on June 2, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

The main opposition Democratic Party's interim committee announces their decision to step down from their posts to take responsibility for the previous day's local elections in a news conference at the National Assembly in Seoul on June 2, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

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