[EDITORIALS]Candidates, try a new tack

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[EDITORIALS]Candidates, try a new tack

The Millennium Democratic Party's presidential candidate, Roh Moo-hyun, has given up his idea of holding a people's primary to elect a unified presidential candidate. He has accepted a formula that decides the unified candidate, pitting him against Chung Mong-joon, the National Unity 21 candidate, through an opinion poll after a round of television debates. Because of his unexpected change of mind, those who have been working for a unified candidate are set to prepare negotiations. But it is not clear whether the opinion poll is feasible. Some suspect that Mr. Roh produced the proposal to secure a favorable position in the unified candidate debate to put pressure on his rival.

There are some problems in unifying the candidate through an opinion poll. If the difference in approval ratings falls within the margin of error, it will be a problem. People will accept the results when the difference is more than 5 percent. Also, a problem arises from extracting the Grand National Party supporters from the list of pollees selected by random sampling.

Apart from such technical problems, there is a question of relying on and giving excessive meaning to an opinion poll. If we recognize the poll results as the expression of the political will of the people, it is difficult to deny that an election is of no use. Such dangerous ideas as, "Without going through complicated election procedures, we can elect a president through a poll," can take root among the people.

Mr. Roh has so far been keeping a distance from Mr. Chung saying, "We do not share political platform and ideology."

A unified candidate is a desperate last minute measure for both Mr. Roh and Mr. Chung. To break the structure of one strong candidate against two weaker candidates, one out of the two should step forward. There is no sincere debate as to how the policies and platforms of the two can be coordinated into a vision for the nation. Without improving such a situation, negotiations on a unified candidate will fail to get people's support.
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