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Bareun Mirae Party
Mirae Party (Future Party)
Bareun / Righteous Party
New Conservative Party for Reform

A new political power is on the scene in Korea with the launch 13 February 2018 of the 'Bareun Mirae Party.' Formed through a merger of the center-left People's Party and the center-right Bareun Party, the new party became the country's third largest with 30 parliament seats. It had two co-leaders, and also a number of political bigwigs, including two former presidential candidates under one roof. The new party vowed to break away from the ways of the past -- by which they mean ideology and regionalism -- and write a new chapter in Korea's politics. They said they will position the party as a powerful alternative to the two major blocs. "Our party will bring together rational conservatives and sound progressives to create a new party that reflects the spirit of the generation and meets the people's aspirations. We will be a force that achieves sincere reform.... What is the identity of the Bareun Mirae Party? It starts from our determination to go on the right path for the prosperity and safety of the Korean people, the happiness of all citizens, and for upholding the value and dignity of all people."

The merger was rather unusual in that the two sides have opposite support bases, raising questions about whether they'll be able to work around their differences. The party will have fewer votes -- about 27 or 28 -- since a few lawmakers have said openly they share the stance of the dissenters but can't leave the party because they were elected by proportional representation.

The center-left People's Party and center-right Bareun Party held a joint national convention in February 2018 to finalize their merger process. Some members opposed the merger drive, citing the parties' different ideological roots and big gaps in policy stances, particularly on how to cope with North Korea. The parties decided to name the merged entity the Mirae Party (mirae means "future" in Korean)

"Our two parties will make joint efforts to create a new party for a better world and hopeful future," their statement read. "We declare war against outdated and corrupt old politics. We'll break conventions and become a new force to change politics." "The nation's politics have been monopolized by outdated conservatives and irresponsible liberals," Yoo said. "To meet the national interest, we will sometimes cooperate with the liberal government, but also hold it in check. We'll put forward constructive opinions on pressing issues."

The center-left People's Party and center-right Bareun Party held a joint national convention on 13 February 2018 to finalize their merger process, disregarding strong objections from within both parties. The joint committee tasked with prepping for the merger says it would complete all other merger procedures, like selecting the name for the envisioned party. With the linkup, two former presidential candidates from earlier this year -- Ahn Cheol-soo and Yoo Seong-min -- also leaders of the parties, will be on the same team.

In the wake of the Park impeachment, the public mood has seemingly turned against conservatives, The candidate for president of the conservative Bareun Party, that broke away from the Liberty Korea Party, Yoo Seung Min, registered a 2 percent approval in a March 2017 Gallup poll.

The Saenuri Party was down to 99 lawmakers in the 300-seat assembly. The new parliamentary negotiating group composed of 30 lawmakers who broke away from the ruling Saenuri Party got right to work on 28 December 2016. The group had plans to launch a new party in January 2017, but was already acting like any other party in parliament.

Joo Ho-young, the floor leader of the tentatively named New Conservative Party for Reform, had an awkward moment while meeting with his counterpart from the party he left, though Saenuri floor leader Chung Woo-taik seemed open to working with his old colleague. "Although the Saenuri Party has lost seats, a competitive environment will make for a better parliament.... I promise to cooperate with the newly formed party in order to ensure state affairs run smoothly."

The opposition bloc had a mixed reaction to the breakaway group. "We're somewhat worried about the New Conservative Party for Reform because it hasn't demonstrated any self-reflection and instead blamed the pro-Park Geun-hye faction and the opposition bloc.... A multi-party system has become a reality. The parliament will function as a place for ongoing negotiations and seeking cooperation."

Political analysts expect the multi-party structure could lead to the forging of new alliances as the parties re-position themselves. In anticipation of an early presidential election in 2017, the parliament would launch a special committee on Thursday to discuss the issue of constitutional revision in order to change the single five-year presidential term. The issue had re-emerged earlier this year before the ongoing power abuse scandal broke.

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