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PPP switches to emergency leadership, joining two other political parties from opposition bloc Updated: 2022-08-10 17:10:10 KST

Following leadership vacancy, the ruling People Power Party has now switched to an emergency leadership.
It will be tasked with getting the party back on track.
Now, this means all three of South Korea's major political parties are under what's referred to as an "emergency leadership framework."
For more, we have our political correspondent Lee Kyung-eun in the studio with us. Welcome.
And Professor Hong Sung-gul at Kookmin University joins us live for in-depth analysis.
Professor, welcome to the program.

Q1: First of all, Kyung-eun, the PPP's emergency leadership was just approved yesterday but there are still some steps to be taken, right?

That's right, Jung-min. the party appointed its five-term lawmaker Joo Ho-young as the interim leader.
Joo had previously served as floor leader and acting chair and is considered to lack any allegiances to a particular faction.
And this time, he will be leading the party at a time of "emergency" initially sparked by the suspension of its Chairman Lee Jun-seok over a sexual bribery allegation which resulted in divisions within the party.
Take a listen to what he had to say.

"The top priority is swiftly resolving the party's internal feud and division and to form a united front. A divided organization is destined to fail."

In the meantime, the new interim leadership will be tasked with overhauling the party before it holds a national convention to elect a new, full-time leadership.
Its duration will be discussed when the rest of the leadership members are completed in the coming days.

The plan is that it kicks off before next Wednesday which marks 100 days since the launching of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration.
Upon launching, Chairman Lee Jun-seok will automatically lose his post.

Q2. What was reason behind their decision to adopt an "emergency leadership"?

That's right, usually, in South Korean politics, we see parties setting up emergency leadership when there is an "emergency" situation.

That would include major election defeats or a chairperson vacancy.
Neither were the case for the PPP.
It won two elections in a row.
And Chairman Lee Jun-seok is suspended and so the position is, technically, not vacant.
But that suspension was the very beginning of an emergency.
It led to an acting chair system led by floor leader Kweon Seong-dong which resulted in more controversies.
The most critical one was the leakage of a private text conversation with President Yoon Suk-yeol criticizing Chairman Lee Jun-seok.
That's when the party and President Yoon Suk-yeol's approval ratings dipped to their lowest levels. prompting calls for a change of party leadership.
Since then, things have moved very quickly.
A series of senior party officials have stepped down resulting in a leadership vacuum.
And the party's central leadership immediately declared an "emergency" the basic requirement for launching an emergency leadership.
Let's take a listen to what floor leader Kweon Seong-dong said earlier this month.

"Two out of the five decision-making members resigned, and the chairman is currently in something of an emergency situation. Lawmakers largely come to the agreement that the party is currently unable to make decisions properly."

The party also revised the rules to allow an acting chair to elect a new leader in case of a chairperson's suspension because previously, that had been only possible in case of a vacancy.
Lastly, on Tuesday, the nomination and the appointment of the interim leader took place on the same day.
All these steps were completed in less than two weeks.

Q3. But will the emergency leadership get off to a smooth start amid fierce opposition from Chairman Lee Jun-seok?

That's right.
As he previously warned Lee Jun-seok today filed for a court injunction against the party.

Lee is accusing the party of intentionally pushing for leadership resignations in order to pave the way for an emergency leadership.
Which, as a result, automatically blocks him from returning to his post even once his six-month suspension ends in January.
Chairman Lee is poised to hold a press conference on Saturday to outline his future plans.
This comes despite growing calls by party lawmakers even those deemed to be close to Chairman Lee are calling for him to not take legal action in order to prevent any further turmoil within the party.
In the meantime, there are more than one thousand party members who support Lee and are preparing for their own group filing of an injunction too.

Q4. PPP's transition to this emergency leadership means that South Korean politics is in unprecedented times where the three major parties are now all run by an emergency leadership.

As of Tuesday, the ruling PPP returns to an emergency system two yearsafter it last launched one following a crushing defeat in the general elections.

The Democratic Party went into one following its defeat in local elections in June.
And the minor progressive Justice Party which barely garnered any meaningful support in the two elections is also run by an emergency leadership.
This is what the interim leader of the Democratic Party had to say about this unprecedented situation.

"South Korea is facing a serious political crisis. There is so much for us to look back and improve on as we've done nothing to prevent all three parties from switching to an emergency leadership framework."

Now all eyes are on whether its emergency leadership serves its purpose effectively and can revamp the party to pave the way for a much-improved leadership.
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