The ULD's Political CourseThere is increasing speculation about the political direction of the United Liberal Democrats and its leader, Kim Jong-pil. The speculation was stirred by the fact that while the ULD failed to win the general election, it retains the balance of power in the National Assembly, as no political parties have a legislative majority. President Kim Dae-jung has already suggested the renewal of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) coalition with the ULD. The Grand National Party is watching closely for signs of the coalition's renewal, saying it would be an artificial political restructuring.
Based on current conditions, in which direction should the ULD go? It is essential to respect the will of the people, reflected in the results of the general election, in choosing political direction. The most important public feeling reflected in the election was the rejection of the political structure which evolved in the 'three Kims' era. Moreover, the failure of the MDP was caused by 'anti-DJ' sentiment - DJ being President Kim Dae Jung - which can largely be blamed on regionalism. The ULD failed in the general election, because Kim Jong-pil relied on the support of Chungchong provinces - a regionalist strategy inherited from the 'three Kims' era. Even though the ULD had insisted that it failed through a ruling party conspiracy, the ULD was critically damaged by its misuse of regionalist strategies.
Another cause of the ULD's failure was the loss of a sense of its political identity. The ULD had discussed unification with the MDP, its former coalition partner. However, it then metamorphosed into an opposition party, but left voters unsure of its characteristics as an opposition. Kim Jong-pil criticized Kim Dae-jung with personal attacks, but it was already too late.
The ULD is unable to obtain an independent office in National Assembly, as it failed to form a congressional floor-negotiating group. There are many reasons for the ULD to suffer humiliation by being excluded from the negotiation in the National Assembly. However, it is important to admit that the limitations of the ULD's political strategy resulted in its failure in general election, rather than to blame others.
There is no real justification for a political coalition, as a cabinet system would no longer be in consideration. The ULD must reconsider the results of choosing the wrong political direction, which contradicted its identity as the origin of conservatism. Furthermore, the ULD must assure the public that it has an enduring internal structure.
by Kwon Sung-chul