[EDITORIALS]Let’s get back to normalSuch political developments as a hunger strike by Grand National Party Chairman Choe Byung-yul, election of Chough Soon-hyung as the chairman of the Millennium Democratic Party, and active steps by Kim One-ki, one of three co-chairs of Our Open Party, help show signs that the political climate is normalizing. It is news gladly embraced by Koreans, who have been feeling anxious over the seemingly endless conflicts.
The three party leaders, by pure luck, are contemporaries who have much in common. Mr. Chough is 68 years old, Mr. Kim is 66, and Mr. Choe is 65. They are veterans who started their political careers in the 1980s. Mr. Chough and Mr. Kim were five-term lawmakers. Mr. Choe was elected four times to the National Assembly.
Unlike political leaders in the past, they did not create massive amounts of political funds or their own factions, but advanced to their current positions riding on the tide of time. They cannot wield such influence in their political parties in the manner of Kim Young-sam or Kim Dae-jung, who accumulated their authority through pro-democracy fights against military government.
In contrast, these three new leaders have to rely on democratic leadership based on public support. They are regarded relatively reasonable in the political camps, and they also face strong challenges from young politicians.
We do not believe it is a pure accident that these three leaders who share a lot in common have emerged while the country is extremely divided and fractioned. If they could think deeply about what their historical roles should be at this point, they would be able to show the politics of mutual survival, not the politics of antipathy.
What makes the political landscape unpredictable now is the investigation of presidential election funds, the now-vetoed independent counsel bill and a national referendum on the confidence in President Roh Moo-hyun.
Concerning the illegal presidential campaign funds, we only have to watch how the prosecutors’ investigation unfolds, while politicians should take this crisis as an opportunity to promote transparent politics. The other issues can be resolved by the political circle itself.
After Mr. Roh vetoed the independent counsel bill, Mr. Choe is in the sixth day of his hunger strike. It is equally unrealistic that the Grand National Party demands the president to withdraw his veto, or that the party is asked to follow the procedure of submitting the bill again at the National Assembly without conditions.
The Grand National Party must cooperate with other parties in order to bring back the bill to the Assembly, instead of just blindly opposing the veto. It does not make any political sense to just push ahead with the party’s demand. We hope Mr. Choe will stop fasting and cooperate to turn the political landscape back to normal.
It is also time for President Roh to take back his suggestion for a vote of confidence. About 50 days have passed since he made such a proposition, but how did it help the country? It merely served as a political shield for him. We hope that political leaders show real leadership by reaching a compromise to clear up the political circle’s uncertainties.