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Political Haggles Blasted

Critics Say Keeping Power Is Only Concern of Parties

Aug 14,2001
Academics and political analysts are criticizing the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, United Liberal Democrats and Democratic People's Party for bickering over political offices. The ruling coalition is expected to field a joint candidate for the 2002 presidential election.

The United Liberal Democrats have said the party is willing to merge with its coalition partners if the party's honorary president, Kim Jong-pil, is selected as the new party's presidential candidate.

However, Lee Sang-soo, the ruling party's floor leader, said, "The presidency of a merged party can be given to Mr. Kim Jong-pil, but he should not ask for more."

The United Liberal Democrats immediately responded by saying they would not consider a merger unless Mr. Lee apologizes.

Several civic groups and academics said the war of words reveals the parties' raison d'etre: keeping their hold on power.

"It shows that the political parties have forsaken addressing the array of economic and social problems for the sole purpose of winning the 2002 presidential election," said Cho Ki-suk, professor of political science at Ewha Womans University.

"It also gives the impression that offices are negotiated by political bosses behind the scenes," said Lim Sam-jin, secretary-general of Green Korea United.

Political insiders forecast that the three parties supporting one candidate would work as an advantage for Kim Jong-pil.

He is the only one of the "three Kims," as he and former President Kim Young-sam and President Kim Dae-jung are commonly known, who has not reached the presidency.

The trio has dominated Korean politics since democracy took hold here in the early 1990s.



by Chun Young-gi




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