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Korea - Political Parties
Recent Developements

The GNP lawmakers proposed instituting a democratic electoral candidate nomination process within the political parties. As it stands, the party leadership decides through an opaque process which candidates can run in which districts. The April 2008 nomination process made clear that personal connections to the party bosses were paramount in getting the parties' blessing. Additionally, politicians have to vote along party lines if they want to stay in the leadership's good graces. Getting rid of "boss politics" would enable candidates to develop loyalty to their constituents rather than to their party leadership and thus give citizens more say in how their representative votes. The most powerful figures within the party, however, are unlikely to willingly relinquish that power, making this reform difficult.

A liberal coalition of the Democratic United Party [DUP] and the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party was formed ahead of the 2012 elections. Ten of the 14 possible proportional representatives of the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party, announced 29 May 2012 that they would step down from the candidate position, to take responsibility for the vote-rigging scandal involving the UPP's selection of proportional representative candidates for the April 2012 general elections.

In November 2013 Independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo announced the launch of his own political party with the purpose of fielding candidates for next June's local elections. Political watchers said Ahn's party would change the political landscape of Korea, which was dominated by the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic Party which has suffered a series of election losses over the previous year-and-a-half. Ahn, a former presidential candidate, was elected to the National Assembly in a by-election in April 2013, and had been popular among young and more liberal voters.

Following the surprise merger plan announced by the two leaders of main opposition blocks, Democratic Party leader Kim Han-gil and Ahn Cheol-soo of the New Political Vision Party started touring the nation from 03 March 2014 to prepare the groundwork for the new party. Both agreed to complete necessary procedures of forming the new party before the June local elections, by jointly setting up a preparatory committee, comprised of five members from each party. The major parties' nomination for local council member elections has long been considered a source of corruption and bribes.

On 31 July 2014, following a crushing defeat by-elections, the co-leaders of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy resigned. All members of the party's supreme council, including co-leaders Kim Han-gil and Ahn Cheol-soo, decided to step down to take responsibility for the by-election loss. The leaders had been heavily criticized for causing friction during the nomination process, and thereby lowering the party's chances of a good showing in the poll.

In 2013 the Justice Ministry filed a petition against the Unified Progressive Party [UPP] following the arrest of a number of its members on rebellion and conspiracy charges. Several UPP members, including former lawmaker Lee Seok-ki, were convicted of plotting to overthrow the government in the event of war with North Korea. The plan was devised in conjunction with members of a secret organization called the Revolutionary Organization.

On 19 December 2014 the Constitutional Court ordered the dissolution of the UPP which resulted in five of its lawmakers losing their seats in the National Assembly. The party's six members in posts at the provincial level also lost their seats. All five of the UPP's sitting lawmakers who were kicked out of the National Assembly claimed the Constitutional Court does not have the right to remove them from the legislature as there's no law that stipulates the status of lawmakers in the case their party is dissolved. It was the first time the court has ordered the dissolution of a political party.

In August 2016 rival parties clashed over a planned visit to China by six first-term lawmakers of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea. Floor Leader Chung Jin-suk of the ruling Saenuri Party on 05 August 2016 urged the Minjoo lawmakers to immediately cancel what he called a humiliating trip. He said that diplomatic toadyism that relies on a neighboring country hurts South Korea's military alliance with the United States as well as national pride. Meanwhile, the Minjoo Floor Leader Woo Sang-ho, while holding talks with Representative Kim Young-ho who planned the China trip, refuted Chung's claim. He said the China visit by the Minjoo members is to prevent Seoul-Beijing relations from deteriorating on behalf of the government and the ruling party. The Minjoo's Floor Spokesman Ki Dong-min also said that the visit mainly seeks to convey a message to scholars and acquaintances in China, who can influence Beijing's policy decisions, not to overreact to Seoul's deployment of the THAAD battery.

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