DP-Ahn merger raises questionsUpdated: 2014-03-04 14:01:59 KST
The surprise merger between the Democratic Party and Ahn Cheol-soo's New Political Vision Party is widely being seen as a result of the sense of crisis felt by both parties ahead of local elections on June 4th, but more than anything it has raised questions about Ahn's leadership.
The elections represented a major challenge for the opposition bloc, which would likely have seen voters split between the DP and Ahn's party.
Political analysts say the merger could place the bloc on a stronger footing against the ruling Saenuri Party.
But the merger has also raised questions about Ahn's leadership style, particularly because the entrepreneur-turned-lawmaker has retreated from election campaigns in the past.
First, during the Seoul mayoral by-election in 2011, when Ahn yielded his bid to incumbent Mayor Park Won-soon, despite his overwhelming support among voters.
The second time was in the 2012 presidential election, when he gave up his candidacy to support Democratic candidate Moon Jae-in just a month before the election.
Ahn's failure to follow through on his promises has raised questions about whether he was keen on avoiding risk or if his decision was just a strategic revision from his original plan to strengthen his political standing.
The merger has also sparked criticism from the ruling party, which says that Ahn's true colors have been revealed and that by joining forces with the DP he ignored the public's desire for a new kind of politics.
The two sides are now expected to go through the difficult task of shaping the new party's platform.
But there are also concerns on both sides.
Some DP lawmakers have said the merger is unwise, while Ahn's aides have expressed concern about how many candidates each party will be allowed to field in the June elections.
The DP has little to lose in the deal, as the party needs fresh blood to improve its standing with the public.
Ahn, however, is at risk of being absorbed by the larger main opposition party.
Ji Myung-kil, Arirang News.
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