Photo: Kim Gi-hyeon celebrates his win in the internal election for party chairmanship. Credit: People Power Party.
Assembly Member Kim Gi-hyeon 김기현 was elected as the new leader of the People Power Party 국민의힘 as President Yoon Suk-yeol 윤석열 대통령 strengthened his hold over the party. In the internal election for the ruling conservative party, the Ulsan 울산-based Kim won 52.9% of the votes, obviating the need for a run-off. Kim had enjoyed heavy-handed backing from the Office of the President 대통령실, which publicly kneecapped his rivals. (See previous coverage, “PPP’s Game of Thrones.”)
Former legislator Kim Jae-won 김재원, current Assembly Members Jo Su-jin 조수진 and Thae Yong-ho 태영호, and conservative pundits Kim Byeong-min 김병민 and Jang Ye-chan 장예찬 were elected as Executive Committee Members 최고위원 of the party. All five are strongly pro-Yoon, paving the way for the president’s faction to occupy an outsized position in the slate of candidates for the 2024 Assembly election 총선.
Former presidential candidate An Cheol-su 안철수 came in a distant second in the chairmanship race with 23.4%, leaving his future in limbo amid rumors that a pro-Yoon candidate - likely Kim Eun-hye 김은혜, who lost a razor-thin election for Gyeonggi-do Province governor 경기도지사 last year - would challenge him in the primary for the Assembly election.
Meanwhile, none of the four candidates aligned with Lee Jun-seok 이준석, the former PPP chairman who stoked the conservative turn of misogynist young men, managed to mount a meaningful challenge, as all four lost by landslide margins.
With the new PPP leadership displaying overt hostility to his faction (Kim Jae-won called Lee “a hooligan who jumped into the game” and characterized the leadership election as “a chance to clear the decks of Lee’s brand of politics”), the 37-year-old incel leader may choose to form his own party. (See previous coverage, “Solid Support for Lee Jun-seok’s Third Party.”)