[EDITORIALS]Hands off, Mr. Roh

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[EDITORIALS]Hands off, Mr. Roh

President Roh Moo-hyun is becoming increasingly blatant about his intention to “wager everything” on the legislative elections in April. “I would like to ask people’s confidence on my presidency through the legislative elections,” he said recently. He also said, “The future of Korea depends on the elections.”
Our Open Party has reportedly asked members of the cabinet and their deputies and equivalents to run for the legislature. Whether the officials will really run for Assembly seats is still uncertain. But President Roh and his confidantes seem to put the election victory ahead of national affairs.
Such a stance is likely to cause the opposition parties to fight back strongly. Even if the party does well, the nation would be embroiled in another political firestorm. Then what? How would the ruling party end the polarization? If everyone were filled with animosity, how could we discuss national affairs and the future of our nation?
Holding a referendum on Mr. Roh’s presidency is unconstitutional, the Constitutional Court hinted earlier. So why does Mr. Roh link a vote of confidence with legislative elections? He seems to want to use it as a bargaining chip against special prosecutor’s investigation of his aides. Opposition parties say Mr. Roh is threatening the nation with either voting for Our Open Party or rejecting Mr. Roh’s presidency. It is also difficult to set a standard for judging whether the people have confidence in the president from the outcome of the election. Discussions about that are a waste of national energy.
The United States is mature enough that its president can take part in legislative election campaigns. But the situation is different in our country. It was not long ago that the government dominated and controlled legislative elections, and we have not yet escaped the dark shadow of such practices.
The people do not want Mr. Roh to be obsessed with a legislative election victory. He should do his best to revive our economy, create more jobs, properly direct the nation’s diplomacy and consistently push forward with government-initiated projects.
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