Parties out to Fan, Tame or Neglect Regionalism

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), March 6, 2000 | Go to article overview

Parties out to Fan, Tame or Neglect Regionalism


While regionalism rears its head again ahead of the April 13 general election, political parties are taking differing approaches to the political monster, with the opposition and splinter parties out to fan or tame it, while the governing Millennium Democratic Party feigns indifference.

The contest to win the hearts of a certain region flared up with the emergence of the splinter Democratic People's Party, which now openly appeals to the voters in Kyongsang-do for ``regional unity.''

Since the DPP joined the four-way race, Kyongsang-do became a key battleground of the opposition Grand National Party and the DPP, with each side claiming their legitimacy as standard bearer of the region.

While the entire DPP leadership visited or stayed in the region, the GNP staged a campaign rally in Taegu last week, to check or tame nascent pro-DPP sentiment there. It also plans another rally in Pusan Thursday to that end.

Amid the siege of the GNP and DPP on Kyongsang-do, the estranged coalition partners -- MDP and United Liberal Democrats -- are jockeying for Chungchong-do.

The contest between the former coalition partners to win the province began with the election bid of Rhee In-je, chief campaign manager of the ruling MDP, at Nonsan, Chungchong-namdo, the bastion of the ULD.

In the face of Rhee's challenge, the ULD vowed all-out efforts to foil Rhee's bid, believing that Rhee may emerge as the new standard bearer of the region, thus dismantling the ULD's political foothold.

In the competition to win the ``regional minds'' of voters, the splinter DPP and ULD will make the most aggressive efforts, as they stand almost no chance of winning polls in other regions.

Rep. Kim Yoon-whan of the DPP went on to openly call for political hegemony in Kyongsang-do on Sunday, saying, ``It is high time that the T-K (Taegu-Kyongsang-pukto) and P-K (Pusan-Kyongsang-namdo) regions should join hands to remake the Kyongsang-do power.''

Compared to the aggressive posture of the DPP and ULD, the ruling MDP and GNP are maintaining a more ``politically correct'' position to distance themselves, ostensibly at least, from the regionalism issue.

Both the MDP and GNP are bashing the regionalism-abetting activities, as if demonstrating that they have no intention to rely on the ill-practice.

``Regionalism is a political pest,'' asserted Chang Kwang-keun, deputy spokesman of the GNP, calling for efforts to eliminate it in the April election

Rep. …

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