02/07/2007, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Political quake shakes Seoul after ruling party suffers mass defection

During a press conference, 23 lawmakers from the ruling Uri Party announce they are leaving to form a new party to run in the next elections scheduled for December. Other Korean parties are critical of the move.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – After days of rumours, the Uri Party lost 23 lawmakers who defected to set up their own party ahead of the next elections depriving the ruling party of its parliamentary majority. They made the announcement of their defection at a press conference.

This loss means that Uri’s main rival, the Grand National Party, is the largest voting block in the National Assembly.

The break-away is seen by many as an attempt to survive the probable debacle of President Roh Moo-hyun’s party. According to a recent survey, support for Mr Roh’s party now stands at around 10 per cent, its lowest support ever.

We want to “make a new political party that unites the nation, which people want,” said Kim Han-gill, one of the most charismatic defectors. Having the “Uri Party at the center actually has no meaning.”

Reactions to the move varied. If for the Uri party, the split is a divorce based on misunderstandings, Grand National Party leaders said that the break-away was like a nightly flight, a shameless attempt to survive.

All 23 defectors said they would support the government till the elections.

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