[EDITORIALS]A disgrace for democracyThe turnout for Thursday's election was disgraceful. The turnout for the election, about 29.7 percent, was stunningly lower than during the June 13 local elections, 48.8 percent, and in the Oct. 25, 2001, by-elections in three districts of 41.9 percent. The rate is so low that it damages the basic principles of a representative government. When the voter turnout is less than 40 percent, there is a distortion of the electorate's intentions that strikes a blow against self-government. The few voters that actually do cast votes are usually in some way connected to the candidates, and that determines the result of the election. We will never know what the true public sentiment was at the time of the election.
In short, the disdain of the voters toward doing their civic duty is proof that we are facing a real political crisis.
Unlike the June by-elections, these polls were not held on a holiday when there was also heavy rain. But the primary factor is the indifference of the people of this nation because of the unacceptable, sickening conduct of politicians. Their acts of hunting for each other's weaknesses and using underhanded methods resulting in negative campaigns continue to alienate voters. Especially, the dirty controversies regarding the alleged draft-dodging of the son of the Grand National Party's Lee Hoi-chang has lowered the desire of people to vote. The by-elections have also been linked too closely to the presidential election later this year, so the majority of voters have lost interest in comparing and choosing candidates most adequate for their local area and local issues.
Politicians must reflect about this unprecedented nonchalance toward elections. The leaders of all the parties should realize that the high abstention rate directly indicates the nation's disapproval and discontent about the outrageous trend of our politics. Excess politics is what the people disdain, and political reform is the nation's desire.
But there is no way to rectify the problems in our politics without voting. Voters must realize that the cycle of "distrust, low turnout, dirty elected officials" starts and ends with their decision about whether to go to the polling place.