Political Newcomers Urged to Push for ChangeMany people have interpreted the outcome of the sixteenth general elections as suggesting the desire of the people to improve the balance and restraint in politics between the two major parties. This is also the official interpretation put forward by the Millennium Democratic Party and the Grand National Party.
Is this really true? We do not believe it is. The GNP did not come to hold the largest number of seats in the National Assembly, because it is a real alternative to the MDP. Neither was it because the GNP successfully won the support of conservatives. It was just a reflex action of anti-DJ (President Kim Dae-jung's nickname) sentiment, and regionalism, especially anti-Cholla sentiment.
The MDP also took advantage of regionalism as well as the blacklist of 'unfit' candidates drawn up by citizens' groups.
The real will of the people reflected in this general election was for a 'revamp' of politics. Voters in the Kyongsang area abandoned their desire for such a 'revamp' by focusing instead on anti-DJ and anti-Cholla sentiments. However, the rest of the nation's voters clearly felt a strong desire for a change from the old generation of politicians.
Therefore, the people with the heaviest responsibility in Korean politics will not be President Kim Dae-jung nor Lee Hoe-chang, the GNP leader. The one hundred and eleven new faces in the National Assembly are the ones who have the biggest responsibility for revamping the nation's politics. The newcomers now make up 40.7 percent of the National Assembly. If they can not bring the winds of political change into the Assembly, the entire nation can do nothing but deplore the hopeless condition of our politics.
The young generation of politicians must not disappoint us any more. Fortunately, there is a growing tendency for newcomers to respect the desires and expectations of the people and our present age, in spite of the partisan distinctions between the GNP and MDP. The newcomers insist that they will 'go against the one boss political system,' and 'cross vote without being restricted by the ruling and opposition parties.' This new generation of politicians has already taken decisive official and unofficial steps to make changes.
A politician, who participated in the 4.19 democratization movement in 1960, commented that "we, the 4.19 generation politicians, have lost our identity by working for the military regime and the three Kims. We failed to become leaders, and finally, we became the victims of a change of generation."
The fresh faces in our politics must resist the temptations from the remains of the old political era. 'Newcomers! Raise your voice for reform!' This is the true desire of the people as shown by the outcome of the sixteenth general election.
by Jung Jin-kon