[EDITORIALS]Bracing for the primariesThe primaries are here. With Saturday's Jeju primary in the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, the in-house races for both the ruling and the opposition parties to select candidates for the local elections in June and the presidential election in December have begun. The MDP picks its presidential nominee on April 26, and the main opposition GNP, May 9. The schedule throws the political sector into election fever for the next two months. The regular voters will get a chance to experiment with primaries as volunteer voters among the electoral college. The primaries, with their procedures and methods of candidate nomination, provide opportunities to bring about the democratization of party politics as well as to upgrade our political culture.
The first steps of the primaries have been taken, but the path has been full of potholes. The ruling party's primaries have spurred a heated race to bring about more volunteer voters, and Representative Kim Keun-tae's disclosure of receiving illegal political funds has given credence to criticism that too much money was being spent and respective candidates were engaging in slanderous mudslinging. Against such a background, it is hard to imagine the Jeju primary resembling the New Hampshire primary in the United States. The opposition GNP is somewhat steamed because Park Geun-hye, the most probable candidate against Lee Hoi-chang, has exited the party. Aggravating the internal volatility, the lawmaker Hong Sa-duk indicates giving up his bid to run for the Seoul mayoralty, complaining of unfair competition. There are rumors spreading that party sources are moving to suppress Representative Kwon Oh-eul's gubernatorial bid for North Gyeongsang province.
The primaries, which have been adopted aggressively by both the ruling and the opposition parties, are full of twists and turns from a past that reflects the level of our political culture. But as the idea of the primary is to let more democratic party politics take root in the nation, errors should be corrected.
The adoption of the primary itself is innovative enough to recapture public interest and attention in politics. Voters will be watching whether candidates play fair and square in the primary races. Only a candidate born after such a process and validation will be competitive and ready for the main race.