[EDITORIALS]Local autonomy in crisis

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[EDITORIALS]Local autonomy in crisis

Concerns over the local autonomy system are growing because of the situation created by the June 13 elections. The principle of local autonomy has been lost because of voters' indifference and extremely distorted voting patterns, which resulted from the fact that local autonomy was held hostage by national politics.

We have already said that the promotion and transfer of local officials by outgoing local heads as a form of compensation cannot be justified. We have also expressed our concern over the possibility that incoming local heads will punish the local officials who opposed them in the election campaign and reward those who supported them. A few outgoing local heads have placed orders for construction projects that seem to favor people close to them. Some local heads made decisions involving local governments' authorizations that have brought public complaints.

Confusion and waste of money have to be shouldered by the residents if incoming officials end the projects simply because they have party affiliations different from their predecessor or they think the projects do not jibe with their campaign pledges.

We are worried about hints of one-party rule in local government and local councils in the wake of the Grand National Party's sweep in the Seoul metropolitan area and the Gyeongsang provinces and the Millennium Democratic Party's monopoly in the Jeolla provinces. For example, the GNP won the race for Daegu mayor, its nine district office heads and 26 out of 27 council members. The MDP won the mayor of Gwangju, four out of five district office heads, and 18 out of 19 council members.

If councils are not up to the task, the residents should check the local governments. But such a system is not yet in place. We should introduce a system that will enable residents to force local heads or council members to resign before their terms expire. We should also revise the laws governing local referendums or residents' rights to ask for a direct audit of the local government's budget. The central government's special inspection on local governments is not enough to root out the problems.
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