[VIEWPOINT]Beyond hoopla of party creation

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[VIEWPOINT]Beyond hoopla of party creation

As the first stirrings of autumn are signaled by the lone paulownia leaf rolling on the stairs, the election season draws nearer and political activities become more brisk.

Supporters hover around the political parties. Some devise plans to make the most of their social recognition to aid their ambition to run the country; and some want to expand their allies, capitalizing on their inherited assets. Add those who leave existing parties, or those who attempt to reshape the political landscape to their advantage. All the hopping, parting, regrouping and wandering of politicians and political hopefuls, taking place at a dizzy pace, leave many voters befuddled.

Of all the schemes and ploys that politicians and social dignitaries employ in preparation for the elections, what the general public is most weary of are discussions of creating a new party.

This year, politicians, again, are trying to set up a new political party, but in such a way that the general public cannot believe that it came from people of reason. The actors may claim their effort is a new attempt that befits the 21st century, but to the eyes of the general public, the politicians are just repeating past mistakes, or the chronic ills of Korean politics.

The biggest problem is that, while they say they are establishing a political party, politicians usually fail to lay out the purpose and philosophy of the party in concrete words. They say they aim at national reconciliation and political reform, but these are broad and general causes that anybody can claim. I can find little novelty or concreteness in their plans. In fact, if the politicians had observed how "national reconciliation" or "political reform" has degraded and been tainted over the past five years, despite the time that the current and past administrations invested in it, they must have realized by now that they are not slogans easy to achieve.

But politicians even lack sincerity in considering that fact. Because politicians fail to present even theoretical goals of creating a new party, their new party seems to be created for ghosts, which is why living souls refuse to trust its integrity.

The way politicians set up a new political party is nothing but a mirror of past political ills. Politicians are supposed to create a political party based on a social group or a class and by representing their political aspirations. In reality, it is mostly marginalized politicians who pursue the scheme of making a new political party to realize their political ambition.

The creation is not in the bottom up style as it should be. Politicians do not bother to gather public opinion and build a party based on that. Instead, they employ a top-down system. They gather the politicians who share the same interests on the premise of creating a new political party, then recruit members.

Those politicians are living in an era when it is considered the norm for candidates for public positions to be elected in a bottom-up way. If the politicians fancy becoming candidates for public office without going through the process of having their qualifications tested and certified, they are having political delusions. They can mobilize "applaud troops," but transforming them into a political power base is something money cannot buy.

I am also concerned, based on the history of political parties in Korea, that a party created in haste as the election approaches will not render good results despite the creators' enthusiasm.

No matter how they sugarcoat their causes or philosophy, the general public will consider the creation itself an unethical act. The public identifies the creation of a new political party as a way to realize personal ambitions, not a sincere patriotic act. Politicians have to remember that the perceptions of the general public have been correct up until now.

To establish a genuinely new political party, politicians need to deliver messages that show their interest in the life of common people and that contain their contemplation over the future of the nation, rather than spouting vague and figurative political catchphrases.

This is how a political party can have integrity as a group of people with the same political determination and clear the general public of their weariness each time the creation of a new political party is announced.


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The writer is a professor of political science at Kyungnam University.

by Shim Ji-yeon

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