[EDITORIALS]Opposition leads revolution

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[EDITORIALS]Opposition leads revolution

The main opposition Grand National Party's plan to revamp how party affairs are conducted is encouraging. With the ruling Millennium Democratic Party taking similar reform measures, the democratization of party politics will be firmly rooted in Korea.

The Grand National Party's blueprint, which is scheduled for adoption at May's party convention, is indeed revolutionary. Its significance has not gained attention since most people have been following the ruling party's primaries, but the blueprint contains materials that promise to shake the core of the political order. The GNP is hardly receiving the appreciation it deserves because its thrust came on the heels of the ruling party's initiative, but that should not distract from the significance. In the long-term, the move will have a greater impact than the outcome of the December presidential election.

The GNP blueprint bars the party's presidential nominee in the general election from assuming the party presidency. The party will also adopt a committee leadership format, a bottom-up nomination process to pick the party's candidates for all elective offices and strengthen the powers of the party caucus. These are all bedrock items that will allow democracy to seep into our political parties, largely dominated by a political boss. Another important aspect of the blueprint is the adoption of a primary to select the presidential nominee and the pursuit of transparency in everyday party affairs. Barring the presidential nominee from assuming the party presidency will eliminate controversy over an "imperialistic party president." Should the blueprint become institutionalized and firmly take root as political practice, the problems of Korean politics may be resolved once and for all.

However, for the blueprint to become a reality in the political arena, several conditions must be met. A spirit and culture of fair play should rule the party primary. The primary is not a panacea, but it should not be tainted by allegations that electoral members have been lined up behind a certain candidate. If the opposition party learns from the lessons that the ruling party primary has yielded, it will accelerate the development of Korean politics.

The decision to nominate from the bottom-up candidates for all elective offices, including the National Assembly, is not without potential problems. While it frees the candidates from having to appeal to the party president, the powers of the local chapter heads of the party may be strengthened so as to bar the entry of political novices. It may even invite vote-buying among delegates who will nominate the candidates. Should the worst happen, the high cost but low effectiveness of Korean politics might grow worse. The power of the local politicians who nimbly attend to the needs of local residents might bar the entry of experts on pertinent subjects who could contribute to the development of Korean politics. The party has installed a veto right to override these challenges, foreseeably coming from the local district chapters, but that may not be enough. The opposition party should come up with various measures, such as enlarging the number of its delegates and apportioning them by gender, age and occupation. The party should use strict sanctions against the illegal practices of giving out cash, gifts and providing entertainment for voters. Whatever the motive and however it came to be, it is fortunate that the country's ruling and the opposition parties have set themselves on the right course. We expect the politicians to do their best to implement the plans.
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