[EDITORIALS]Primaries: a shaky start

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[EDITORIALS]Primaries: a shaky start

The Millennium Democratic Party's plan to hold primaries with participation by the general public is falling apart. The unprecedented attempt was put together after the ruling party's heavy losses in the October by-elections, and at first appeared to be gaining momentum. The proclaimed ambition to draw the people into the selection process seemed to give the opposition no choice but to follow suit. But now, potential candidates and interested parties are resorting to skullduggery to get what they want.

Back-room politicking and buying delegates with cash were to become things of the past; candidates would be selected in part on the basis of the people's wishes. Those were the promises, even if there were no assurances that there would be no undesired side effects.

Now the worries emerge. The Millennium Democratic Party will be accepting candidate registrations Friday and Saturday for the first primary, to be held in Jeju on March 9. Even before the official campaigning begins, the abominable ways of the past have resurfaced ?personal attacks, mobilizing of factional cronies and the planting of supporters.

The behind-the-scenes attempts to plant supporters among nonparty electors are an especially serious potential campaign irregularity. Although voluntary participation is the highlight of the new approach, the seven presidential hopefuls have engaged in activities to make sure that their supporters are there to cast votes for them. The drive to recruit 500 college students from 100 campuses is just an example of the activities that may not be illegal but clearly betray the proclaimed intention to prevent overheated premature campaigning and excessive campaign spending. At the rate the process is moving along, there is no guarantee that the balloting will not be overwhelmingly influenced by certain interest groups seeking to maximize their political influence.

We have had enough talk from the ruling party that it will be "born again" as a party with open doors and the support of the public at large. The party needs to understand that support will come after openness is successfully implemented.
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