[EDITORIALS]Realignment to what end?

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[EDITORIALS]Realignment to what end?

A political "big bang" is the topic of the day in political circles these days. It is a sensitive topic, being aggressively launched at a sensitive time by none other than Roh Moo-hyun, a senior party adviser who has a strong chance to become the ruling party's presidential nominee.

It is extraordinary to see a candidate boldly and without hesitation assert his views on a topic that will have explosive ramifications. In the Korean political context, a political big bang, or political party shuffling, has a negative image. In the past, parties broke up and reformed when unlikely forces gathered together for numerical power or to coerce defections among legislators. The latest realignment talk seems in its timing to be a part of the "conspiracy theory," the idea that hidden hands are manipulating the ruling party's primary elections. Despite those images, Mr. Roh asserts that he wants to shake up his party after its convention in May and before the June local elections. He also says he will work to create a majority party in the Assembly.

Well, political birds of a feather should flock together. But it is hard to see why Mr. Roh would pursue a realignment ahead of the presidential election. It has become almost a campaign pledge.

The pledge is explosive because the intent is unclear. His rival in the primary, Representative Rhee In-je, says that for an individual candidate to invite party defections all over the map suggests that an invisible hand is exerting influence. Mr. Rhee is also trying to paint Mr. Roh as a "destructive reformist" and his political realignment as a conspiracy. The opposition Grand National Party is blasting both Mr. Roh and President Kim Dae-jung, saying Mr. Roh has learned conspiracy and hidden dealings at the president's knee.

We cannot judge Mr. Roh's plan; its vision and goals are too murky for us to decipher. But we would like to point out that this is not the right time to shake up the political sector for ideological reasons. If Mr. Roh wants to get together with reformist legislators, he should invite both opposition and ruling party assemblymen to join. That would divide the political landscape along the lines of conservative vs. liberal. But that may well not be what he means by his "party of the majority."
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