[EDITORIALS]Here come the primariesThe wheels of the Millennium Democratic Party primaries are creaking from the start. Accusations of mob mobilization and money being involved for a nonpartisan voters' group in the first primaries to be held in Jeju are flying everywhere. More than 65,000 people applied in Jeju for the 378-member voters' group of nonpartisans, making that a ratio of 172 to 1. Ulsan and Gwangju showed similarly high ratios, with 117 to 1 and 108 to 1, respectively. With many of these applications having been submitted at the last minute, candidates Chung Dong-young and Kim Keun-tae are making accusations that certain candidates paid money to mobilize these applicants. There are rumors about how much money is being paid for one application, and about how the prize for gathering 100 applications is a trip to Hawaii.
This is the first time our country will be applying a system of primaries in which half of the electorate voting for the presidential candidates will be chosen among anyone in the public who applies. Amidst the media's praise for advancing the reform of political party systems, the Millennium Democratic Party announced that it would make Jeju the New Hampshire of Korea, referring to the state in the United States where the U.S. presidential primaries kick off. But the initial vigor and confidence is waning and Korean politics is once again filled with murky suspicions and overheated competition. Personal attacks and black-and-white propaganda by several candidates have already started to coarsen the atmosphere of the primaries. The rate these politicians are going, the public is in for yet another display of disgusting behavior, much like the National Assembly elections.
This is the first time anyone in Korea will go through a primary election. People are naturally suspicious of anything new and it will take a lot of effort to draw the voluntary participation of the public. Some even claim mob mobilization as a necessary measure to ensure the success of the primaries and to increase the support basis for the candidates. If so, take away the "public participation" part from the primaries. Primaries where candidates line up mobilized mobs to show off their prowess will only lead to early and unnecessary competition in the presidential election, not to mention completely distorting what this "political reform" was supposed to achieve in the first place.