Party Merger Will Not Help Reform

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Party Merger Will Not Help Reform

The Korean people''s eyes have been on the president''s upcoming renewal measures in the midst of the general national crisis. With the sudden emergence of a rumor about political realignment and a merger between the Millennium Democratic Party and the United Liberal Democrats, the public finds itself at a loss. It is not clear whether this merger story is true, because the Blue House has denied the rumor and the ULD has expressed opposition to such a move. But given that the current regime''s longtime wish has been to become the majority ruling party, it sounds plausible. We wonder whether the MDP regards the merger of the two parties as the key to pushing through renewal measures. If so, the ruling party has got the nature of the crisis completely wrong, and such an attempt goes against public opinion.

We understand the difficulties the current administration has in managing national affairs, impeded as it is by a larger opposition party. Yet artificial political realignment is not the right path to overcome the situation. The present picture of a larger opposition reflects the voters'' will; it shows their wish for the ruling party and the opposition to learn to compromise and cooperate. However, instead of exercising its political skills, the ruling party has resorted to the politics of numbers by drawing in the ULD. This is one reason why the political scene has deteriorated and the people mistrust politicians, but the ruling circle is blaming the Grand National Party for impeding the ruling party''s every move. The ruling party should regard the opposition as a potential partner and persuade it to cooperate. Now the GNP is showing flexibility, unthinkable until recently, in such ways as attending a National Assembly session without preconditions and cooperating in the handling of public funds. We believe the order of the day is for the MDP to make good use of the GNP''s change in attitude and endeavor to develop high-level political skills of compromise. If the MDP wrongly claims that today''s confusion in national affairs lies in the fact that it is in the minority and attempts to use the merger of the parties as a tool to remedy the situation, it will be faced with an enormous public backlash.

The merger of two parties with totally different platforms is no more than a union of convenience, far from the ideal of a political party with policy visions. The reason that the government''s reforms have become mere motions is largely because two parties with different beliefs have formed a coalition government. There is even a rumor that ULD Honorary President Kim Jong-pil will head the newly merged party. When will we be able to break away from the tiring era of "the three Kims"?

If political realignment is necessary, it should be one that creates a fresh new party centered on policy and ideology, unlike the current organization rooted in exclusive regionalism. However, this is not the time to discuss such things. The economy is plummeting and public trust in the government has fallen. In such a crisis, the most urgent business is to bring together all national capabilities. The discussion of political realignment will exacerbate the confrontation between the ruling party and the opposition and further divide public opinion. The discussion of political reform should be focused on ending dictatorial one-man-rule party politics and pursuing democracy. It should not be used as a political tactic to justify a merger for political expediency. The ruling camp should work out measures that will end the need for merger talks which will not advance political reform.

by Chae Si-ra

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