[EDITORIALS]Tasks for the opposition

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[EDITORIALS]Tasks for the opposition

The main opposition Grand National Party has embarked on an ambitious party primary schedule, starting in Incheon. As expected, Lee Hoi-chang swept to victory in the kickoff primary with about 80 percent of the votes there. Should he continue his sweep, leaving only crumbs for his challengers, the party will fail to spark public interest akin to that the Millennium Democrats have raised. That, however, is a problem for the GNP to ponder. What we will be watching is whether the elections improve Korean politics. The GNP has done well to join the MDP in holding primaries.

As we well know, the ruling party has "successfully" completed about three-fourths of its elections. Yes, the candidates pounced on each other relentlessly and there were other minor glitches, but inside of two weeks, the Millennium Democrats outpaced the Grand Nationals in popularity. It will not be easy for the GNP to catch up, but if they can learn from and not repeat the ruling party's mistakes they will be able to shore up flagging public support. And in a larger context, the party can contribute to a further development of Korean political parties. These should be the Grand National Party's goals. We expect the opposition party to upgrade the political culture through active discussion and constructive criticism of the government. The opposition party is at an advantage there; ruling party candidates cannot too openly criticize their own party and its leader. The GNP has a chance to turn into a genuine issues-based party.

The opposition candidates' performance in the second television debate on Kyung-in Broadcasting was better than at their first debate aired by the Korean Broadcasting System. But the candidates have a long way to go to develop their debating skills. The opposition is also dogged by complaints that it is criticizing the government for the sake of criticism. Some party members also charge that leaders of provincial chapters have mobilized behind Mr. Lee, which makes free competition difficult. The party should make earnest efforts to inspire the public with its ideas and broaden the public base of political participation.
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