[EDITORIALS]Too little too late

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[EDITORIALS]Too little too late

The Grand National Party has finally come to face the truth. Ever since Lee Hoi-chang, the party's leader and the likely presidential candidate, accepted the collective party leadership proposed by nonmainstreamers, the intraparty conflicts and chaos are showing signs of settling down. In particular, Mr. Lee has made it clear that he will not run for a leadership position under the collective system, a move that would nip potential problems in the bud.

We welcome his decision to embrace calls for changes and reforms, and prevent the leading opposition party from getting off course due to internal feuds. The opposition leader also displayed his determination to move out of his luxurious villa in order not to be involved in the controversy over a scandal concerning the residence, although he had explained that his family members occupied the upper and the lower floors because of concerns about possible wiretapping. The GNP's problems are rooted in the party's slowness to resolve such a simple issue.

As many Koreans have witnessed, the GNP's internal fighting was a discord caused by the party's failure to notice changes in the political climate, and the public's desire for reform. Mr. Lee's lukewarm explanation and response to the villa scandal may have fueled the public's anger about him. But he cornered himself by sticking to his control of the party despite criticism of his "imperial" party presidency. He called for an end to a politics led by the so-called "three Kims" but has failed to clear himself of having the image of an imperial leader. The public may have felt that the GNP showed an outdated image, for its leader clung to control and was surrounded by aides who used to serve the military regime in the 1980s.

Mr. Lee had a chance to reform the party but has faced strong resistance from within his party and a plummeting popularity because he followed the advice of close aides bent on immediate political gains. He should reflect on his attitude for being so late in accepting the demand for changes and reforms.

The GNP crisis has taught politicians from both parties many lessons. The first step to resolve a political crisis is for politicians to get rid of their self-righteousness and embrace criticism. They should realize that no presidential bidders can win in December if they are complacent about their chances of being elected.
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