Minority parties struggle for survival

Cho Ji-hyun in Seoul/The Korea Herald
Asia News Network

Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - With only a few days left until the general elections, minority parties are making their last-minute efforts to seize their chance in the bipartisan political battlefield and survive in the next parliamentary term.

A total of 20 minor political parties registered with the National Election Commission to join the race, and 14 of them currently hold no seats within the National Assembly.

Many of these small parties have made it their top priority to reach the house by winning at least one proportional representative seat and survive after the elections.

Even these humble goals, however, are hard to reach, due to the number of competitors and the public¡¯s focus on leading parties¡¯ big shots.

In particular, the recent scandal over the government¡¯s illicit surveillance of civilians largely divided voters into two groups, supporting either the ruling Saenuri Party or the main opposition Democratic United Party, depending on which side of the story they believe.

According to the public election law, a party is to be allocated a non-constituency lawmaker seat if it wins 3 percent or more of the party preference vote.

Also, the political party law states that a party is to be disbanded if it fails to win at least 2 percent in a national election.

The center-right Korea Vision Party, which kicked off in February under the lead of former ruling party lawmaker Park Se-il, earlier set an ambitious goal of winning at least 20 parliamentary seats, the minimum requirement constituting a negotiating unit.

However, most public polls have so far predicted that the most optimistic scenario would be two seats, including a proportional representative one.

Park is running in the Seocho-A constituency and spokesperson Rep. Chun Yu-ok, who defected from the ruling Saenuri Party amid nomination feuds, has been given the top priority as a proportional candidate.

The Unified Progressive Party is better off in terms of candidacy as it allied with the DUP and most of its prominent figures successfully won their single candidacy through a preliminary race.

However, its candidates face an uphill battle against ruling party big shots. Rep. Lee Jung-hee, one of the party¡¯s joint leaders, had to drop out of the race due to allegations that her aides manipulated public poll results in the primary.

It is also uncertain whether liberal voters will choose the UPP over the DUP in their party preference vote, officials said.

¡°The spying scandal was expected to cut down on the right-wing turnout but has not yet taken a visible effect in the polls,¡± said the party¡¯s spokesperson.

The conservative Liberty Forward Party, currently the third-largest in the house, also faces the risk of losing seats in the next term.

The party largely pins hope on its stronghold constituencies in the Chungcheong provinces and Sejong administrative city, but its poll results have visibly faltered with the rise of liberal opponents amid signs of internal feuds.