[EDITORIALS]No Damage for Civic GroupsThe Constitutional Court ruled in favor of election law provisions, which ban civic groups' campaigns to prevent some politicians from being nominated or elected. The court regarded the blacklist campaign not as a simple movement to give information about candidates and to express opinions, but as a systematic election campaign. Accordingly, the court judged that it should apply the same standards to the campaign of civic groups as well as to other candidates' election campaigns. The court did not accept the civic group's proposal that it should differentiate their campaign as voters' movement for public welfare from ordinary election campaign by candidates. The decision reflects the court's judgment and estimation on the blacklist campaign of the Citizens' Alliance for the 2000 General Election.
After the Constitutional Court's ruling, the disputes of long standing on whether the blacklist campaign is legal has settled to the conclusion that the campaign violates election laws. The blacklist campaign has been regarded as a movement for reform of election culture, pushed up from the base of the society, and as a symbolic movement on which civic groups' capabilities were concentrated. On the other hand, the blacklist campaign was criticized for harming the principle of equal opportunity guaranteed by the Constitution, through advocating certain candidates, and aggravating public distrust of politics. In such mixed views, the ruling of the Constitutional Court will create a big stir among the principles and the civic groups' movements.
The Constitutional Court is recommending that even the civic groups' blacklist campaign should follow proper rules. The court interpreted that civic groups should follow the law. In a similar view, the Seoul District Court declared the leadership of the Citizens' Alliance for the 2000 General Election guilty last month, saying, "We respect the motives and the aims of the blacklist campaign, but the movement is against the existing law."
In such trends, civic groups should make efforts to secure new methods and ways for political reform movement. Despite the Constitutional Court's ruling, the ideals and purpose of political reform by those civic groups were not damaged.