UPP admits candidate selection fraud
By Kim Jung-yoon
The far-left minor opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) admitted Wednesday to its fraudulent candidate selection of proportional representatives for last month’s National Assembly elections.
“We have found that the party committed vote-rigging, both in its on-the-scene and online voting,” said Cho Jun-ho, one of the four co-chairs of the party.
“The party acknowledges its own share of responsibility for distorting the will of the people through the violation of rules and principles,” said Cho, who is also head of the inquiry into the allegations, during a press conference at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul.
The investigation team said there have been various breaches of rules and regulations found, including online votes that did not meet the deadline and others collectively sent from the same Internet Protocol (IP) address, as well as unregistered onsite ballots taken into account.
With such irregularities, the fact-finding committee confirmed that the result of both online and on-site polls were unreliable.
The scandal broke about a week after the April 11 parliamentary elections, when a party member posted a message on its website. It claimed that one of the party’s factions may have rigged results to rank its proportional representation candidates higher on the list.
In the 19th National Assembly elections for the 300-member parliament, the UPP won a total of 13 seats including six from proportional representation, an unprecedented number for a leftist party, elevating its status as the third largest parliamentary group.
According to the results of the probe, the UPP’s nomination of proportional representatives was totally inappropriate as the party manipulated the data, and signed a contract with an incompetent electoral management organization.
Cho went on to say that the party needs preventive measures and reform to avoid a recurrence of such irregularities.
The party has come under heavy criticism by the public over the vote fixing, following a similar case involving its co-chair Lee Jung-hee, who renounced her candidacy for the parliamentary elections over the attempted forging of a telephone survey.
Political observers say that the case could shake the party to its core, as it has been criticizing larger parties for being corrupt and undemocratic, calling for higher standards and transparency.
The prosecution is seeking to embark on an investigation into the election fraud, heightening tension over the party’s survival.
The party will likely see intensifying internal conflict over the possible resignation of its leadership taking responsibility for the recent fraud.
Meanwhile, Lee said she could not agree on the results of the investigation. She raised suspicion that the announcement might have been driven by “political intention” to isolate the party’s minority faction.