[EDITORIALS]Setting the campaign tone

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[EDITORIALS]Setting the campaign tone

The presidential campaign for December's election has became a showdown between the two candidates: the Grand National Party's Lee Hoi-chang and Roh Moo-hyun of the Millennium Democratic Party. A new political culture has been cast, one in which politics is based on policy differences. This new situation can lead to a stronger democratic system, but only if the two factions, the conservatives and the liberals, compete against each other and compromise when necessary, resolving that their first and foremost duty is to serve the public. If they do not stick with such a principle, we could end up with extreme and endless confrontations between them.

If candidates give up their platforms simply to win the election, there is no more politics left. That is why we criticize the consolidation of the candidacies of Mr. Roh and Chung Mong-joon of National Alliance 21. Nothing can justify the consolidation. Mr. Roh himself said that their candidacies could not be unified because of differences in policies and career paths. Polls are not a legitimate way to consolidate candidacies. Analysts and Mr. Roh himself had already doubted the validity of the method. Mr. Roh, who was severely criticized by his own party members even after he was elected its presidential candidate, cannot avoid the criticism that he in effect gave up his candidacy, which was established through primaries.

To overcome this problem, Mr. Roh has to put his utmost efforts into minimizing the differences with Mr. Chung's campaign pledges. He also has to clarify his policies. Slogans are not enough. Although he loudly called for "new politics against old politics," he has to show a way to overcome his limits as a successor to the Kim Dae-jung administration, which has been criticized for its old politics, such as corruption and regionally lopsided recruitment for senior positions. As a result he has to differentiate himself from Mr. Lee by walking the thin line of criticizing the current government while ensuring its continuity as well.

Presidential elections should not be a field where slander and character assassination are rampant. Mr. Roh and Mr. Lee should set the tone of fair play in the campaigns.

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