[EDITORIALS]Opportunistic politics

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[EDITORIALS]Opportunistic politics

The atmosphere of the Millennium Democratic Party has changed since Roh Moo-Hyun was selected as a unified candidate for the December presidential election. There are no vacant seats at the party's campaign skull sessions, which many senior party officials kept away from before Mr. Roh grabbed the unified candidacy. Parking lots are now full at the party's building in Yeouido; many MDP lawmakers who haven't been to the headquarters in several months are trying hard to attract Mr. Roh's attention. The more backbiting they did over his presidential campaign, the harder they now pledge to help Mr. Roh get elected.

At the center of the scene is a group of lawmakers who bolted from the MDP to support another presidential hopeful, Chung Mong-joon. The lawmakers have tried at every opportunity to undermine Mr. Roh's candidacy. But Mr. Roh won the unified candidacy, and these fair-weather supporters have now reversed their positions. Yesterday, nine legislators in this group rushed back to the MDP. They say that they had bet their political lives on merging the two presidential hopefuls' campaigns and that they deserve credit for the union. But such arguments are more an example of their opportunistic style of politics than of their principles.

Among the MDP deserters, Representatives Park Sang-kyu and Kim Won-gil have joined the opposition Grand National Party. While they were with the MDP, they held such key posts as the party's secretary general and health and welfare minister. They said they joined the opposition party because its candidate, Lee Hoi-chang, is better capable of running the government. But Representative Kim once said, "The utmost reform is to prevent Mr. Lee, an anti-reform politician with the mind-set of the Cold War period, from taking power."

Both the MDP and the GNP have accepted the opportunistic politicians because of the need to gain more seats in the National Assembly. But that does not fit the slogans of clean politics advocated by both candidates.
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