Former Co-Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD)had an emergency press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul on Dec. 13, 2015, and made a bombshell announcement that he was leaving the NPAD. He said, “I have tried to persuade the leaders of the NPAD that if the present situation should be permitted to continue, there would be no chance of winning the upcoming elections, but there has been no answer from the leadership.”Ultimately, he declared that he would form a new opposition party. (See full text at the end of this Report.)
Ahn’s departure from the main opposition party signals the splitting of the opposition political camp with the general elections only four months away.
Presumed to join the new party of Ahn are the members of the non-mainstream factions of the NPAD, including the some of the political leaders of the southwestern Jeolla Provinces (the seat of power of the late former President Kim Dae-jung). Reports indicate that about 20 incumbent opposition members of the National Assembly might want to join the new party of Ahn, which is the required number for the formation of a parliamentary negotiating body. Offhand, Supreme Councilmen Joo Seung-yong and Oh Young-sik have already resigned from their NPAD posts and almost so has non-mainstream floor leader Lee Jong-kul. Ahn is also getting favorable comments from former Rep. Kim Han-gill with whom Ahn had shared the co-chairmanship of the NPAD before Moon’s takeover of the party.
Ahn has already declared that he would form a new opposition party for the takeover of the control of government in the forthcoming general elections and it is generally anticipated that more than 20 current members of the National Assembly might join the new party of Ahn.
Too, there are possibilities of Ahn’s forming an alliance with the political leaders of the Jeolla Provinces such as Reps. Chun Jung-bae (leader of a new opposition party), independent lawmaker Park Joo-sun and Governor Park Joon-young of the Jeollanam-do Province.
However, there are speculations that Ahm might not readily join hands with the Jeolla provincial political leaders lest he should be labeled a ‘Jeolla provincial man.’
Even if Ahn succeeds in forming the parliamentary negotiating body, however, a big question remains. It is how he could form an amicable relationship of cooperation (and even coalition) with the NPAD to compete with the united force of the ruling Saenuri Party that is expected to automatically get the benefit of a fisherman catching fish in troubled waters.
There is another possibility that might not be very encouraging to Ahn. It is the possibility of an opposition coalition that might be formed among the NPAD, the moderate progressive Democratic Justice Party of Rep. Ms. Sin Sang-Jung and the National Council (provisional) of Rep. Chun Jung-bae.
The following is an unofficial English translation of the full text of statement by former Co-Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo of the NPAD issued on the occasion of his announcement of departure from the NPAD on Dec. 13, 2015. The English version of the text was done by The Korea Post.?Ed.
Today, I am leaving the New Politics Alliance for Democracy.
I have failed to fulfill the repeated wishes of the Korean people and the members of the NPAD to reform the main opposition party to win the heart and pride of the Korean people so that they could repose their confidence in the party to take over the control of government.
I failed to meet the wishes of the people and the members of the Party.
The force who wanted to dwell on the present state and situation of the party was too strong and it was way beyond the range of my ability to resist.
I have tried to persuade the leadership of the party that if the present situation should be permitted to continue, everyone would have to face a catastrophe. And I have pleaded again and again with the leadership of the party to make a bold decision to reform the party. However, there has been no answer from the leadership.
I told myself if the present state of situation should be permitted to continue, there would be no hope of winning the forthcoming general elections?let alone the hope of carrying out the takeover of the government.
I honestly admit my lack of ability to improve this situation and I feel fully responsible for this situation.
I offer my sincere apology for this from the bottom of my heart.
Dear fellow countrymen,
I have been continuously seeking the unity of the opposition political party and the eventual takeover of the control of government.
I conceded the candidacy of the Presidential election in 2012 and merged with the NPAD shortly before the local autonomy elections.
However, political reforms have not been made at the NPAD and change of government has not come.
There has been no improvement in the livelihood of the people and the leaders of the opposition party, too, have not been able to do away with the ill practices of clinging on to their vested rights.
The opposition political party in Korea today is unable to provide the people with any answer. The opposition party can neither change the present state of affairs in Korea nor produce any hope for the change of government.
The opposition party is in the crossroads and in a truly desperate situation.
If we want to find a way out, we should re-examine everything. In spite of this situation, the party leadership rejects the demand of the people to carry out major political reforms. The party leaders only try to protect their small vested rights.
They speak of reforms, but in the depth of their mind they are afraid of reforms and renovations.
So, I have arrived at a conclusion that within the NPAD it is impossible to expect any change or reforms. And I have reached a conclusion that if such reforms cannot be carried out from within the party, they should be sought by a strong shock from outside the party.
In front of a rocky wall in the middle of pitch-dark night where I cannot see an inch before me, I have chosen the most difficult way which I believe I should take. I am now all alone, and am moving into the middle of a wild plain. I have neither an azimuth compass nor a map.
However, my destination is clear.
It is for me to stop the expansion of the power of the ruling Saenuri Party and repay the people for their support given me in my effort to curb the further expansion of the power of the ruling Saenuri Party with better administration of the affairs of the state and new politics to improve the livelihood of the people.
Now I have started my work to carry out the change of government. I will try to create a political force that can effect the change of government. And in order to attain this goal, I will do everything I can.
My dear people and dear members of the Party!
I solicit your kind support and care.