SEOUL, Kim Kwan-young, a two-term lawmaker, was elected floor leader of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party (BP) on Monday with the task of patching up the party following its crushing defeat in the latest elections.
Kim will replace incumbent Kim Dong-cheol, who also doubles as the chief of the party's emergency planning committee.
The 49-year-old Kim beat rival Lee Un-ju, also a two-term lawmaker, in a vote by party lawmakers.
The party suffered a huge defeat in the June 13 local elections and parliamentary by-elections. It won none of 17 big-city mayoral and gubernatorial posts and 12 vacant parliamentary seats in the first nationwide polls for the party.
"It is hard to achieve everything at once, whether it be party unity or the formation of parliamentary committees. I will make efforts to make a young, powerful opposition party through constant communication and cooperation," Kim said in his remarks on his election.
The Bareunmirae Party came into being in February through a merger of two center-right and center-left parties, in what is seen as a bold experiment in South Korea's politics long dominated by regional and ideological divisions.
The party faces its biggest crisis following the election defeat. Its co-heads and senior officials recently resigned, and Ahn Cheol-soo, its key founder, is pondering his political future after finishing in third place in the Seoul mayoral race.
Kim ruled out the possibility that his party may seek to merge with the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), which has strong support among conservatives.
"Some LKP members appear to hope for (a potential merger), but I don't think that is plausible," the floor leader said.
The BP said Monday that it will hold a new leadership election on Aug. 19 to fill the vacuum left by the departure of its co-chiefs and senior members.
Source: Yonhap News Agency