South Korea’s prosecution of the opposition leader on criminal charges has caused rifts in the progressive bloc, with lawmakers worried it could hurt their chances of keeping control of parliament in next year’s elections.

Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung appeared in court Friday to stand trial on a charge of violating the election law by making false statements during his presidential campaign in 2021. Lee did not speak to reporters but he has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying he is being targeted by the president in "political repression.”

Lee, who has also been indicted on charges including breach of duty and bribery, is likely to have more court appearances that keep his case in the headlines for months. Although he was the party’s nominee for the presidential election, narrowly losing, some prominent members are concerned he’s becoming a liability.