[EDITORIAL] The People Sent a Clear MessageThe results of Thursday's by-elections did not live up to predictions by pollsters and the press. The predictions that voter turnout would be very low due to overheated and illegal electioneering and that the two by-elections in Seoul would be very close races were off the mark. The turnout was higher than in past by-elections.
What does the Millennium Democratic Party make of this crushing defeat? It can be summed up like this: The people got angry with the chain of corruption revealed by the Lee Yong-ho scandal, the criminal rings linked to the corruption, and the attitudes and behavior of the ruling elite and punished the government with their precious votes. The Millennium Democratic Party acknowledged its defeat as the punishment by the middle class, which is unhappy with the policy failures of the government.
The people went to the voting booths because they thought they had to do something with this government. They are fed up with the government's self-righteousness, and the ideological conflicts in our society, which were deepened by the tax audit of the press companies and irresponsible behavior of some participants at the Liberation Day Celebrations in Pyeongyang.
More shocking to the MDP is the fact that it was defeated in a constituency where the number of Kim Dae-jung supporters is larger than in any other constituency in Seoul. This is a warning that says the discontent of the people with the government is dangerously high. Even in the meeting of MDP officials, the voice of self-reflection was heard. They said, "Our candidates are more competitive than the opposition's. Our defeat cannot be explained as anything other than public disaffection." If the government recognizes public disaffection, it should restructure its management. It should start with clearing up suspicions regarding the ruling elite. The government should focus more on reviving the economy and taking care of public welfare than on its North Korea policy and the tax audit of the press companies.
The people are ridiculing the current leadership of the prosecution, which is unable to deal with the current situation. The ruling party's officials and senior presidential secretaries should be responsible for their faults. They did not read the public mood appropriately and did a disservice to the president with easygoing circumstantial judgement. The people are demanding a reshuffle of President Kim's staff. The government should not forget this is its last opportunity to meet the people's expectations.
The Grand National Party should behave as a big opposition party with one seat shy of an outright majority. It should take issue with corruption and policy failures. But it should also be a responsible party by suggesting policy options, not just being consumed with political attacks. The GNP should not forget that this victory is not from their excellence but from the government's failures. Lee Hoi-chang, president of the GNP, should put what he said into action. "I will pursue symbiotic politics through cooperation rather than confrontations."