[EDITORIALS]Can politics be reformed?

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[EDITORIALS]Can politics be reformed?

The campaign season for the 16th presidential election started Monday. A hundred days from Monday, the people of Korea will elect a new leader for the next five years. But people are depressed and frustrated rather than expectant and excited over their opportunity to choose. Campaigns focused on bashing Kim Dae-jung, Lee Hoi-chang or Roh Moo-hyun are creating an aura of hatred. There seem to be only negative strategies of slandering opponents.

It looks doubtful whether we can get through this election should things continue the way they are. With 100 days left until the day of truth, the candidates should change the election atmosphere. It is time for them to show what vision and policies they have and what makes them qualified to be our leader.

This year's presidential election will introduce a new leadership that will take over from the "three Kims politics" of Kim Young-sam, Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-pil that has symbolized both progress and setbacks for Korean politics for over 30 years. A new political vision can emerge from this election; it can be an opportunity to get rid of the old "boss politics," imperialistic one-man party politics based on regionalism and closed-door decision-making.

The candidates should bow to the public desire for genuine progress in our political culture in their campaigns. The age-old conflicts in our society between democracy and industrialization, and conservative and liberal should be demolished and a blueprint for uniting our people's energy for the development of our country should be set forth.

The presidential election outcome is unpredictable. At the moment, the campaign has three contenders, Lee Hoi-chang, Roh Moo-hyun and Chung Mong-joon, but there are several possible alliances, coalitions and wheeling and dealing. Then there are flashpoints like the allegations that Mr. Lee's son evaded military service, the parliamentary inspection of public funds use and the new squabble over somebody playing the "North Korea card" in our domestic politics. This election will probably be one of many turns and complications. This is all the more reason for the candidates to throw away their "all or nothing" attitude and stay faithful to the real meaning of the election. A campaign that will encourage people to participate actively in the political process is what we need.
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