The center-left People's Party and center-right Bareun Party will hold a joint national convention next month to finalize their merger process despite objections from within both parties, party officials said Monday.
The joint committee tasked with preparing for the merger has decided to hold the meeting on Feb. 13, Yu Eui-dong, the spokesman of the Bareun Party, told reporters. It will also complete all other merger procedures such as selecting the name for the envisioned party by Feb. 1.
Ahn Cheol-soo and Yoo Seong-min, the leaders of the People's Party and Bareun Party, respectively, have been pushing for integration as they seek to create a powerful centrist party ahead of the June gubernatorial and mayoral elections.
Some party colleagues, however, oppose the merger drive, citing the parties' different ideological roots and big gaps in policy stances, particularly on how to cope with North Korea's nuclear threats.
Dissenters within the People's Party plan to create their own party early next month. Some 16 lawmakers have opted to join the new party, named the "Party for Democracy and Peace."
In response, Ahn suspended the membership of many dissenters for two years, accusing them of having engaged in "acts that harmed the party."
Earlier this month, Ahn and Yoo declared their resolve to merge the two parties, vowing to break with "old, corrupt, factional and outmoded" politics and bring together "reform-minded conservatives and rational centrists." (Yonhap News)