Democratic Party Lawmakers Express Discontent Over Election Nominations

Seoul - Lawmakers from South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party (DP) aired grievances on Tuesday over what they perceive as unfair candidate nominations for the April 10 parliamentary elections, influenced by party leader Lee Jae-myung's preferences. The discontent primarily emanated from members of the DP faction less aligned with Lee, during a general meeting that lasted two hours and 40 minutes. Accusations of a "massacre" of non-aligned lawmakers in the nomination process have deepened internal divisions within the party.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Representative Hong Young-pyo, a prominent figure within the non-Lee faction, criticized the party leader for the alleged biased nomination process, which they claim disproportionately targets lawmakers not aligned with Lee. Hong revealed he was ranked in the lowest 20 percent for legislative activity, a categorization that affected his and others' standings in party primaries. He also criticized the nomination committee's decision to deny the nomination of Im Jong-seok, a former presidential chief of staff under the previous administration, in favor of Jeon Hyun-heui, a former Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission chairperson, for Seoul's Jung-Seongdong district.

Concerns were raised about the integrity of the nomination process, including suspicions regarding the late inclusion of a pollster with alleged ties to Lee for conducting surveys for the party primaries. Despite the controversy, Lee Jae-myung, who attended the meeting without making any remarks, stated afterward that he would consider the various opinions expressed by lawmakers.

The nomination committee's decisions have sparked significant criticism and led to notable defections from the party. Representatives including Kim Young-joo, Noh Woong-rae, Lee Su-jin, Ko Min-jung, Sul Hoon, and Park Young-soon have either initiated protests, such as hunger strikes, announced intentions to leave the DP, or have already departed. Park Young-soon, in particular, announced his move to a new party led by former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon after being placed in the bottom 10 percent.

Both DP Chairman Lee and the party's nomination committee chief, Im Hyug-baeg, defended the nomination process as fair and reasonable. However, the controversy has highlighted the stark divisions within the party, particularly between those aligned with the current leadership and those associated with the previous Moon Jae-in administration. The situation remains tense as the party approaches the April elections, with potential implications for its unity and performance.

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