[INSIGHT]This Coalition Outlived Its Usefulness

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[INSIGHT]This Coalition Outlived Its Usefulness

Many people still remember that Kim Jong-pil, honorary president of the United Liberal Democrats and his party denounced President Kim Dae-jung and his administration during the general election campaign last year. They will not easily believe that Unification Minister Lim Dong-won's parliamentary repudiation will lead to the end of their coalition. Because JP (Kim Jong-pil's nickname) had severely condemned President Kim Dae-jung and then after the election restored their coalition with DJ (a moniker for the president), people may think that JP can tie up with DJ again this time, as he did last year, by justifying himself with various causes.

But DJ and JP, the Millennium Democratic party and the United Liberal Democrats, should not deceive the people any more. They should not retain their coalition any longer if they reflect the uneasy get-together of the last three and a half years and if they look to the future of their two parties.

Let's give it some thought. What did the DJP coalition leave us? For the last three and a half years there was only fierce political wrangling, conflict and confrontation. Compromise and mutually-helpful politics have disappeared. In principle, the minority administration should have learned how to hold dialogue and compromise with the opposition party, which holds a plurality in parliament. But the DJ administration has forced the politics of numbers and the politics of power with the help of its coalition partnership with JP.

The DJP coalition spoiled the first chance in many years to practice and develop the politics of dialogue and compromise. The DJP coalition played a great role in turning back our political clock.

It also resulted in distorting people's will with their political decision. The votes of the United Liberal Democrats, which calls itself "the original conservatives" should be considered conservative support. But the conservative votes added support of the progressives after the ULD formed a coalition with DJ. The political propensity of the ULD is closer to that of the opposition Grand National Party than the MDP. If the two conservative parties together had acted, the government might not have given away aid to the North and poured tax money into the Mount Kumgang project.

The DJP coalition also resulted in the confusion of national management. Unqualified figures and political appointees were named as high-ranking officials in the government because of the coalition. Therefore, there was no one to be held responsible for political and administrative blunders. The ruling MDP used to blame the ULD, citing "the limits of the coalition government," and the ULD has continuously complained, "They did it all their way."

There is no reason to retain the DJP coalition. Even if there were no parliamentary repudiation of Mr. Lim, it is time to break up the DJP coalition and to shape a new political landscape. The MDP and ULD have confirmed that they cannot keep this kind of coalition. Then, it is right for each party to go its way.

If the coalition is broken up, DJ can restart and end his tenure with his own government for the first time during his presidency. DJ will not suffer from "the limit of the coalition government," nor will he be "hampered by the ULD."

So he can manage the nation according to his belief, appointing figures he wants as cabinet members. This is the best chance to revamp the cabinet and party leadership, which he has shelved for months. Not only junior lawmakers of the party but also the party chairman have requested that he do so. We cannot expect national management to go well when the ruling party chairman and presidential secretaries attack each other. A complete shuffle is inevitable. It is time for DJ to make a big decision.

The United Liberal Democrats may as well call back the prime minister and cabinet members who hail from the ULD and restart its identity as "ULD-like." The ULD shall go to ruin if people continue to criticize it for exchanging security and conservatism for political power and government positions. Though JP once said, "I will do my best to retain the coalition while tolerating intolerable things," the coalition has turned out to be fragile enough to break up because of a minister.

In the end, the time to part came. Representative Kim Yong-hwan, a facilitator of the DJP coalition, was right when he said that the reason to retain the coalition disappeared when the possibility of the introduction of a cabinet-responsible government crumbled. There was no difference between the amicable sharing and hostile action after the reason for the coalition, introduction of parliamentary cabinet system, vanished. This kind of coalition does not help politics. It's time to part.


The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Song Chin-hyok

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