[EDITORIALS]Cool it on the campaigningCampaigning for the National Assembly by-election on April 24 kicked off yesterday with candidate registrations. Political parties are vowing a fair fight, promising that the central party organization will not be mobilized to support the candidates. But they are likely to give the election all they have considering how the outcome could affect the balance of politics and also the power play within the parties themselves. We are already getting reports that cash is being handed out and other signs that the campaigning is quickly going into overdrive.
Both the Millennium Democratic Party and the Grand National Party may try to use the election as a breakthrough in their struggles with internal party reform, which could make the campaigning even worse. For constituencies that could tip the balance of the election, the parties will likely campaign to woo voters. If party leadership and candidates genuinely are serious about political reform, they ought to start by decisively shedding the temptations. They need to remind themselves of the plight of the Kim Dae-jung administration, which, early in its term, mobilized money and governing party organization to win some by-elections and was haunted by the strategy for the rest of the term.
What the MDP did in joining with the People’s Party for Reform to nominate candidates has been embarrassing to say the least. Of course, parties can join whenever they want to jointly nominate candidates. But these kinds of alliances must be based on justifications and principles of mutual respect. The MDP even held a primary to choose its candidate for a constituency, but stopped from nominating its own candidate. It says it will support the Reform Party candidate as a reward for support in the presidential election.
By-elections for the National Assembly are just elections to choose local representatives. To put so much of the party’s interest at stake in them will turn off the voters and tarnish the party’s image.