[EDITORIALS]Reforms American styleBoth of Korea's leading political parties are challenged by internal demands for reform. For the Millennium Democratic Party, which was in disarray during the election and of which it was said, "There is no party, but a candidate," reform might be an urgent task. For the Grand National Party, which holds a majority in the National Assembly but failed in the election, realignment is necessary.
As a part of overall reform of the political party system, there is a debate whether to introduce an American-style system, which is based on lawmakers being the key deliberative organ under the direction of a floor leader. Under this system, the power of the ruling party would be reduced and the financial burden on the party, which created chronic problem in Korean politics, would be eased. Also, the parties would be more policy-oriented. The logic of supporters of this system from both parties sounds similar.
If there is any suspicion of intervention and intrigue, however, the situation will change. In the case of the MDP, it is the so-called "new mainstream" who contributed to Roh Moo-hyun's election, which promotes the system. It is evident that the MDP needs organizational and personnel reform now. But if such a move is promoted as a means to get rid of some of its members, it will be a problem. This will not only fail to save the good cause, but also result in making the party and the legislature into "pro-Roh forces."
Moreover, if these moves are part of a scheme to reform political parties, aiming at the general election in 2004, they will create problems for Korean politics. If there are secret preparations, the GNP will resist. The politics of dialogue will end. And the regional division that deepened during the election will become even deeper. Younger lawmakers of the GNP who advocate this system emphasize that they will "defend the party till the last minute," keeping vigilance against MDP moves. It is desirable that an American-style party system be introduced, but the meaning of the system will be kept only when the pure motives are left intact.