Ahn to launch new party by February

December 21, 2015
Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo

Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo

By Kang Seung-woo

Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, the former co-leader of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), said Monday that he will launch a new party by February and field candidates in the general election in April.

Ahn said that he is open to joining forces with a wide spectrum of liberal politicians in order to secure a victory in the presidential election in 2017.

A week ago, Ahn left the NPAD, which he co-founded in March 2014, after a power struggle with the incumbent leader, Rep. Moon Jae-in.

“I plan to share details of the new party ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in February after establishing a preparatory committee early next year,” Ahn said during a press conference at the National Assembly. The holiday falls on Feb. 8.

“Considering there is little time left before the general election, I plan to run a working-level group later this week to speed up the process of forming the new party,” he said.

Ahn had called for the resignation of Moon and reform of the party following the NPAD’s series of crushing defeats in recent elections, but Moon’s rejection of this demand led to his departure.

Ahn said that there are many people who have shown interest in his new party. He also made it clear that he will not join forces with the NPAD again for the election.

“I once again want to say that I will not band together with the NPAD, which rejected reform,” he said.

Ahn added that he was open to joining hands with other former NPAD lawmakers, based in the Honam region that consists of North and South Jeolla Provinces ― the stronghold of the main opposition party.

Reps. Chun Jung-bae and Park Joo-sun, who left the NPAD earlier this year, also said that they are willing to consider a partnership with Ahn.

Four NPAD lawmakers ― Kim Dong-cheol, Moon Byeong-ho, You Sung-yop and Hwang Ju-hong ― who quit the party after Ahn’s departure have expressed their intention of joining Ahn’s new party to help reorganize the opposition bloc. The four lawmakers also attended the press conference.

However, many political analysts remain skeptical about whether a new party will make a difference in the general election.

“Moderate-conservative parties have yet to pull it off throughout the history of general elections here. How Ahn will form his new party is a key point, but he has failed to provide a gleam of hope,” said Cho Jin-man, a political science professor at Duksung Women’s University.

Yun Seong-yi, a professor of political science at Kyung Hee University, echoed Cho’s view.

“Ahn needs to show something that attracted voters when the Ahn Cheol-soo syndrome was at its peak three years ago, but he has failed to live up to expectations so far,” Yun said.

“In addition, Ahn has continued to call for the fulfillment of his vision of new politics, but this is too theoretical. Now, he needs to unveil the details of this vision and lay out a roadmap. I think he is not prepared to do so.”

Cho added: “In order to become the No. 1 opposition, his new party will eventually compete with the NPAD, but at this point, that seems to be a tall order.”