[EDITORIALS]Dancing the two-step

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[EDITORIALS]Dancing the two-step

Will the unification of the presidential candidates Roh Moo-hyun of the Millennium Democratic Party and Chung Mong-joon of the National Unity 21 be materialized? The troubled negotiations between the two over details of unification methods concluded yesterday. The agreement came a week from the day the two candidates confirmed their alliance by sharing a "love shot" ?drinking while locking arms.

After the two candidates initially agreed on a formula, part of the procedural details was leaked to the media. Both sides immediately started accusing each other of the leakage. But then faced with reality, which dictates that there is no alternative but unifying a candidacy to fight Lee Hoi-chang, they worked out a second agreement.

But the unification still is unstable. Until a unified candidate is finalized, there remains some other obstacles to overcome. The main obstacle is that the agreement leaves open the possibility of nullification. It was not included in the announcement, but both sides have agreed that they would nullify the poll results if the approval rating of Lee Hoi-chang is below that of the last two-weeks' average. This is a device to prevent a situation in which the voters who are in favor of Mr. Lee would cast their ballot for the man who will make it easier for Mr. Lee to fight against. If this is the case, the implementation of such an agreement will be very difficult, although both men talk of accepting the results.

Another obstacle is the clause, "If the details of agreement are leaked, the agreement will be nullified." Both obstacles can be claimed by either side whenever necessary. So the unification agreement is fragile.

Since Mr. Roh and Mr. Chung know that they have little chance of defeating Mr. Lee if only one of them stands up to Mr. Lee, it appears the two must agree with unification.

If we put aside the propriety of opinion polls as a means for deciding a unified candidate, even if both parties agreed on that method, the decision is in the hands of the voters. It is not proper to express worries over a "reverse ballot" by those voters. If the will to unify a candidacy is strong enough, the two men should not confuse the voters any longer and must decide quickly.
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