Open Democrats decide unity with Democrats in all-member vote

Democratic Party leader Song Young-gil (left) and Open Democratic Party leader Choi Kang-wook pose for a commemorative photo after signing the agreement on the merger of the two parties at the National Assembly building on the morning of the 26th. Parliamentary photojournalists

On the 30th, the Open Democratic Party decided to unite the party with the Democratic Party of Korea through a vote of all members. It is the first step toward the grand unity of the passports promoted by Democratic presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung. Some within the Democratic Party are concerned about the noise surrounding the introduction of the ‘open nomination system’ (a system in which the public recommends proportional representative candidates and selects them through a random referendum) after the merger.

The Open Democratic Party decided to join the party with the Democratic Party with 72.54 percent in favor and 27.46 percent against through an online vote of all party members on the same day. It has been four days since the two parties reached an agreement on the 26th to unite the party with the name of the Democratic Party of Korea. Of the 9578 total party members, 89.57% (8587) participated in the voting.

Choi Kang-wook, chairman of the Open Democratic Party, said in a statement immediately after the party was approved, “The party members gave the order to unite with the Democratic Party with overwhelming approval.” He said, “I will make sure that the Democratic Party’s reform process does not forget that the concerns and worries of the members of the party who were opposed to the coalition are ultimately loyal to the same goal.”

Some key members of the party, such as former Supreme Council member Son Hye-won and Supreme Council member Joo Jin-hyeong, objected to the party on the grounds that they could not believe the Democratic Party’s promise to open nominations, but this did not prevent the union. The final unity is expected to be finalized around mid-January next year after a vote for the unity of all party members of the Democratic Party. If three members of the Open Democratic Party join, the Democratic Party’s National Assembly seats will increase to 172.

The merger proceeded with ease as Candidate Jae-myung Lee emphasized the unification of passports every day. Candidate Lee appeared on Channel A the day before and said, “Next year’s election is so serious that the reform and progressive camps need to unite.” An official from the election committee said, “We need to gather all the supporters through the alliance with the Open Democratic Party and the restoration of Honam figures from the People’s Party.”

There are also skeptics within the Democratic Party of Korea. A party official said, “We can form solidarity with the Open Democratic Party from the outside, but it is questionable whether it is necessary to increase internal risk by combining with those who were eliminated from the Democratic Party nomination.” A member of the Democratic Party said, “To create synergy with the party, the Open Democratic Party must also show an open attitude toward the middle class.”

Controversy may arise over the introduction of the open nomination system, which the Democratic Party has promised as a condition of unity. Another member of the Democratic Party said, “The open nomination system, which selects candidates for proportional representation through a popular vote, may undermine the purpose of introducing a proportional representation system to allow experts and social minorities in various fields to enter the National Assembly. There is a precedent for not having proportional representation,” he said.

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