When Is Cooperation Conspiracy?

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When Is Cooperation Conspiracy?

Since the meeting between President Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-pil, founder of the United Liberal Democrats, rumors of political realignment have sprung up. Inside and outside the Grand National Party, turbulence is palpable as rumors spread that some of its lawmakers will bolt. There is no reason to oppose cooperation between the two coalition leaders if it is limited to policy cooperation. However, if it is a prelude to a politics of conspiracy, as the opposition fears, it is no small matter. In that case, it amounts to the betrayal of voters' intentions manifested through last year's general elections.

Among seven points of the two leaders' agreement, what draws attention is a pledge of firm election cooperation in the spirit of "mutual survival, common benefits." The two parties have different opinions as to whether cooperation will continue until the presidential election in December 2002, but the general projection is that the parties will join forces in the April 26 elections and by-elections for the heads of local governments and in the local elections in June next year. The form of cooperation is likely to be joint nominations. Given that each party sets forth its own platform and policies for voters' judgment, such election cooperation goes against basic principles of democracy, since the two parties have huge differences in ideology and platform. It is highly likely that the coalition's plan will lead to a battle over regions and individuals, rather than a policy competition.

The two Kims' meeting has engendered many conjectures. Rumors abound. Some involve a three-Kims coalition, including former President Kim Young-sam. Others concern a scheme to split the opposition by starting a new party for dissident Grand National Party members. Rumors circulate with the names of possible defectors. Suspicions arise that the two coalition leaders agreed on the revision to the National Assembly Act as a ploy to split the GNP.

The Millennium Democratic Party strongly denies the rumors of political collusion, but it all smacks of a fishy scheme. Mutual survival and common benefits are possible only when the ruling party and the opposition negotiate and cooperate with each other.
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