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Merger costs Bareun Party another lawmaker

Jan 10,2018
Kim Se-yeon
A Bareun Party lawmaker on Tuesday defected to the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) in protest against the minor conservative party’s move to merge with a center-left party.

Rep. Kim Se-yeon’s defection underscored deepening dissent over the proposed union with the People’s Party, which Kim and other dissenters say cannot join together with their party due to different ideological roots and policy stances.

His departure will reduce the total number of the party’s lawmakers to 10, while the number of the LKP lawmakers will rise to 117.

“I have mixed feelings while thinking of the citizens who have supported the Bareun Party, party members and colleagues,” Kim said in a written statement. “Wherever I am, I will do my best there to help create a Republic of Korea that can better serve future generations.”

Kim’s defection is yet another blow to a campaign by People’s Party leader Ahn Cheol-soo to rally centrist politicians and strengthen his party’s parliamentary foothold ahead of the gubernatorial and mayoral elections slated for June.

The campaign has faced stiff resistance from within the People’s Party. Some senior members argue that joining with the Bareun Party will obscure their party’s political identity and alienate its supporters.

Kim’s announcement came hours after Gyeonggi Governor Nam Kyung-pil, another core member of the Bareun Party, voiced his opposition to the merger. He reiterated his commitment to unifying the fractured conservative bloc. “I will not join the pursuit of a union between the People’s Party and Bareun Party,” Nam wrote on Facebook. “It is because I cannot be with a party that has divergent views.”