[EDITORIALS]Is civic group campaign legal?

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[EDITORIALS]Is civic group campaign legal?

With the 17th legislative elections around the corner, several civic groups have announced that they will start a campaign to support certain candidates. These groups have formed a coalition and have vowed to create a new political force through this election. The coalition announced that it would select and support those it feels are true candidates of the people throughout the country. The groups have the right to express their political opinions actively in the elections, but it is worrisome that their action might lead to illegal campaigning for certain political groups.
First, the ”big change of politicians” slogan that the coalition has put forward sounds as if it were in the same context as President Roh Moo-hyun’s comment last December that “the civil revolution isn’t over yet.” Moreover, Mr. Roh has declared that he will ask the National Election Commission to issue an authoritative interpretation on his intervention in the elections, saying that he “wanted to act to win more seats” after he officially joined Our Open Party. The newly formed coalition could be a movement in disguise to support the president.
The civic groups have said that they will abide by the law in their campaign but it is questionable whether that is possible. The existing election laws strictly restrict the campaigning of any persons who are not candidates, the campaign managers of the parties and campaign offices, and other registered campaign workers. The civic groups would be denied important campaign acts such as holding public speeches, producing and distributing flyers and putting up signs.
Therefore, it is a mystery how the civic groups can hold a campaign to support a certain candidate without breaking such strict laws. The leaders of the coalition must seriously consider whether their actions won’t inflame an already chaotic election. If the civic groups do indeed intend to help certain political group under the pretense of the common good, they should just register as official campaign helpers. If this isn’t appealing, they should first try to revise the existing election laws that restrict their campaign.
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