Editorial; Party Nominations' Effects on Elections

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), February 20, 2000 | Go to article overview

Editorial; Party Nominations' Effects on Elections


The last ditch efforts of politicians to secure a nomination for the April's general election have engulfed the nation's politics over the past several weeks. The partisan obsession with election politics has literally preempted the many other pressing issues around the country awaiting our urgent attention.

By the weekend, the parties had disclosed their nominees for most electoral districts. The remaining districts are either too hotly contested to decide or are lacking suitable candidates. This election year's special feature was the general public's all-out support for the unprecedented civic campaign calling for the removal from the election ticket of candidates with unacceptable records.

The Citizens' Alliance for the 2000 General Elections blacklisted many politicians with records of opposing political reforms, accepting bribes or violating human rights causes. The nominations made by the political parties however, are far short of reflecting the popular expectations. Saturday's mass rally organized by the citizens' alliance clearly represents the grass-roots' protest against the outcome of the nominations that went against the nation's call for radical political reform.

The worst example is the United Liberal Democrats which showed its true colors by turning a deaf ear to the repeated calls. The blacklisted candidates easily secured their ULD nominations. The citizens' reform campaign, however, will likely have little effect on the party in the upcoming election since its political stronghold is the relatively conservative Chungchong provinces.

The party's political face lift last week of electing Lee Han-dong as its new leader can hardly produce new momentum for its political inroads into other regions. It is a must for the party to broaden its political support across the country in order to improve its minority standing in the General Assembly. Lee's leadership has a inherent limitation to initiate such a change. Any radical attempt on his part to bring about the change will risk the loss of confidence from Kim Jong-pil, the ULD's conservative founder and towering patriarch.

The ruling Millennium Democratic Party has excluded from nomination some candidates listed as unfit by the civic groups. The removal, however, fell far short of meeting popular demand. Many blacklisted politicians received MDP nominations. This is a shocking disappointment. Among the parties, the newly-created ruling party was the most vociferous at first about its unflinching commitment to replace the old guard with new political aspirants to run for the parliamentary election.

The expected sweeping changes in the MDP's nomination did not come about. The party's initial stand for change proved to be empty political rhetoric and demoralized the reform-minded candidates who trusted the party. The MDP will likely pay a heavy political price during the election for choosing to forsake new aspirations for political reform.

Such electoral predictions are by no means difficult to make. …

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