[EDITORIALS]A year for political reform

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[EDITORIALS]A year for political reform

Opinion polls conducted by media companies at the start of this year deliver a clear-cut message to politicians: Voters want reform in politics ― reform to heighten transparency in political funding and to bring new faces into politics. The constituents want no more infusions of black money and want to be able to see transparently the flows of political money. They also want an election system that does not require piles of money.
The country goes to the polls for the National Assembly this year. Clear tasks are ahead. First, the coming special committee on political reform should concentrate on discussions of political reform. Paying scant attention to neither the public’s desires nor the work at hand, last year’s special committee was engrossed in a numbers game, fighting over the number of seats in the National Assembly and the size of electoral districts. The matter of dividing up the elected and proportional seats is one that interests only politicians, not voters. The new special committee must first hammer out guidelines for redrawing electoral districts and move along with reform. A blueprint put forth by a widely-based group ― a national association for political reform ― would be a starting point.
President Roh Moo-hyun heralded the new year as the “year of the origin of political reform.” But he still actively endorses Our Open Party as a de facto government party. The president’s words may well prompt questions over the government’s hand in the coming elections, which ultimately will hinder political development. President Roh would be more efficient in his calls for political reform if he promoted it in a non-partisan way.
The demand for a generational change in politics was especially high in Seoul, the Gyeongsang provinces and the Jeolla provinces. Gyeongsang is the Grand National Party’s stronghold and Jeolla that of the Millennium Democratic Party. Voters dislike the parties that have reigned for several decades because of politics based on regionalism. The parties should compete in the areas that matter: overhauling political practices and fielding solid candidates.
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