S.Korean ruling party MPs to defect after Park’s impeachment

Seoul, Dec 21 (IANS) Scores of South Korean ruling party lawmakers on Wednesday agreed to defect from the Saenuri Party as strife deepened between factions loyal to and against impeached President Park Geun-hye.

Thirty five legislators of the Saenuri’s anti-Park faction agreed to bolt from the party on December 27, Xinhua news agency reported.

Intra-party fighting got stiffer after the bill to impeach Park was passed through the National Assembly.

Almost half of 128 Saenuri lawmakers voted for the impeachment, indicating more anti-Park faction members may choose to leave the ruling party in the near future.

A new party that will be created by the anti-Park faction could surpass the number of 38 parliamentary seats the minor opposition People’s Party garnered in the April general elections.

The biggest opposition Minjoo Party has 121 lawmakers, while there are six legislators with the minor opposition Justice Party and seven independent lawmakers.

The anti-Park faction’s new party will become one of floor negotiation bodies in parliament as it meets the requirements of over 20 lawmakers, raising the total number of floor body to four.

The four-party regime would emerge for the first time since 1988 when four political parties formed their respective negotiation bodies on the floor.

Attention is expected to be paid to whether the People’s Party, mostly composed of defectors from the Minjoo Party, and the anti-Park faction’s party would form a “third playing field”, where non-mainstreamers in both ruling and opposition parties compete to field a single candidate in the next presidential election.

If the constitutional court justifies the presidential impeachment for as long as 180 days, a presidential election is required to be held within 60 days.