[EDITORIALS]The lady decides

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[EDITORIALS]The lady decides

Park Geun-hye has decided. And along with her decision to bolt from the opposition Grand National Party, the unpredictable plot of the upcoming presidential election takes yet another turn.

There is speculation that her resignation will trigger an active debate among politicians over such theories as presidential candidates from the Gyeongsang provinces, an anti-Lee Hoi-chang coalition and reorganization of our political parties. Predictions of the impact of the party vice president's decision also vary. Will it be a big bang or a tempest in a teacup? Her less-than-definite attitude towards President Kim Dae-jung could also be a factor in this drama.

Some see her as a lone heroine standing up to the tyranny of an "imperial" political party system while others brand her as an opportunist who wants to cast her lot with the faction rising against Lee Hoi-chang. Her departure from the party, she said, involved the "democratization of the party." Lee Hoi-chang and his mainstream party members insisted that party democracy had to come gradually, but Ms. Park called for the party to reform in time for the presidential election. It is true that Mr. Lee, a contender for president, is showing great interest in keeping his power as party leader intact even after he demanded that President Kim step down from his post as leader of the Millennium Democrats.

Ms. Park's logic has its shortcomings as well. Party democratization is a continuous process, not something on the agenda to finish off before the election. Her demands - terms that Mr. Lee and his cohort find difficult - are seen by some as just an excuse to leave the party. Park Geun-hye has decided, but what are the motives behind her decision? The public will find out eventually.

Ms. Park's defection is the most interesting thing that has happened in the presidential election drama so far. Will she form a new party or will she lend her weight to one side of a precariously balanced political seesaw? Whatever her next move is, the ultimate decision is for the public to make. And whatever her moves, Ms. Park should not lean on the old practice of appealing to regionalism. Nor should she play politics, siding with those who would like to change political alignments for their personal advantage. Ms. Park has decided for party democratization. Let her live up to her decision.
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