Former South Korea PM to launch new party ahead of April election

SEOUL: A former South Korean prime minister announced on Thursday (Jan 11) his plan to launch a new political party in a move that aims to challenge the domination of the two leading parties in parliament in the run-up to an election on Apr 10.

Lee Nak-yon, a five-term lawmaker who was prime minister from 2017 to 2020 and then chaired the main opposition Democratic Party, is one of several political figures who have announced or signalled plans to exit the progressive party.

The Democratic Party has a majority in parliament, but has seen growing fissures with some members seeking to unseat leader Lee Jae-myung, accusing him of abuse of power.

Lee Nak-yon told a news conference he wanted an end to polarised two-party politics, criticising both the democrats and President Yoon Suk-yeol’s conservative People Power Party.

“The Democratic Party has degenerated into a one-man party, a bulletproof party, where violent and vulgar words and actions run rampant,” Lee said, calling for a multi-party system of “compromise and coordination”.

Lee’s new party could potentially undercut the Democrat Party’s majority at April’s parliamentary election, which would have policy implications for the remainder of Yoon’s term, analysts said.

With 167 seats in the 300-member, single-chamber parliament, the democrats have passed dozens of contentious bills despite opposition from Yoon and his ruling party.

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