(LEAD) DP engulfed in factional tensions over candidate nominations for April elections

SEOUL, The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) is engulfed in factional tensions over candidate nominations for April's general elections amid accusations the party is trying to sideline those not aligned with party leader Lee Jae-myung. The tensions came to a head Tuesday after Reps. Park Yong-jin and Yoon Young-chan, who are considered non-mainstream members, were found to belong to the lower 10 percent among DP lawmakers in terms of legislative performance. The results serve as demerit points when they compete with other contenders in party primaries. Those belonging to the lower 10 percent will have 30 percent of their primary votes deducted, while those belonging to the lower 10-20 percent will have 20 percent of their primary votes taken off. Park and Yoon cried foul, claiming the results are a "massacre" of non-mainstream members. "Is the goal of this general election to judge the Yoon Suk Yeol administration, or is it to complete Chairman Lee Jae-myung's domination of the party?" Yoon said in a press conference. The list of those receiving demerit points is not disclosed but reportedly includes 31 lawmakers amid speculation many of them must be those not belonging to the mainstream faction of those loyal to the party leader. Rep. Kim Young-joo, a four-term lawmaker and deputy National Assembly speaker widely perceived to be outside the pro-Lee faction, announced on Monday that she was placed in the lower 20 percent category and declared her intention to leave the party. Some lawmakers are alleging that the party primaries are unfair, accusing Lee of favoritism toward his loyalists and asserting that the party has essentially become Lee's personal faction. On Wednesday, Rep. Song Kap-seok also came forward, saying he was notified as an underperformer as well. "Almost all of the 31 people are said to be outside the pro-Lee faction," Song said on MBC radio. "This situation deserves to be called a nomination crisis, doesn't it?" Party elders also voiced concern, including former Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum. Aides said Kim, together with former National Assembly Speakers Lim Chae-jung and Kim One-ki, plans to "express strong regret" and call for fair candidate nominations. But the DP's nomination committee chief, Im Hyug-baeg, rejected such allegations. "There is no such thing as a 'nomination massacre,'" Im told reporters. "The nomination committee of our party is carrying out nominations in accordance with principles." Source: Yonhap News Agency