중앙데일리

A tainted election

Apr 05,2008
The April 9 election has characteristics all its own. It’s becoming clear that Korean politics are not moving forward. Instead, they are falling backward. People thought that campaign vote-buying had vanished in Korea. But there are signs of the practice’s resurrection.
Now we hear that some candidates resorted to bribery to be allowed to run under their party’s banner.
Another thread in the Wednesday election is the revival of regionalism.
The public thought that regionalism was finally gone after the three giants — Kim Young-sam, Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-pil — retired.
But regionalism is more prevalent than ever. Lee Hoi-chang, who heads the new conservative Liberty Forward Party, openly promotes regionalism in his hometown in the Chungcheong area.
Another trait of this election is that political parties are relying on star politicians.
While a strange political group called Pro-Park United begs for votes using the name of Park Geun-hye, the Grand National Party recruits Park Geun-ryeong, Park Geun-hye’s younger sister, to be the chief campaign manager of the party’s electioneering in North Chungcheong Province. While Pro-Park United grabs Park Geun-hye’s skirts, the GNP appeals to Park’s sister. It’s really strange to see political parties decline and individual politicians flourish.
The reason why political parties rely on specific individuals, regionalism and vote-buying is that politics as a whole is incompetent because political parties have failed to define important issues in this election.
In particular, the United Democratic Party, the majority party in the National Assembly, failed to show a united front to efficiently compete against the governing Grand National Party due to a lack of leadership.
Meanwhile, the GNP failed to garner voter support because of internal power struggles.
Only voters can normalize politics and remedy the tainted practices in Korea.
But there are increasing numbers of voters who don’t even vote, as they have become disenchanted with politics.
This trend should be reversed.
Voters should remember the wisdom that, “If you are indifferent to politics, the world you want will not become a reality.”
Voters should keep in mind that if they look down on politics, then politics in return will look down on them.


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