[EDITORIALS]Bad news for democracy

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[EDITORIALS]Bad news for democracy

We are seeing signs that the April 15 legislative elections will be another one tainted with money and illegal campaigning.
The National Election Commission said illegal campaigning took place during the lunar New Year holidays and Daeboreum, a traditional holiday marking the first full moon of the lunar new year. Voters were taken to karaokes, given gifts and invited to restaurants to join political parties. Mountain-climbing clubs were formed to gather supporters for prospective candidates and thousands of name cards were distributed.
These incidents show that our election system still has not shed its perennial corruption. Bribes, entertainment, private supporters’ clubs and pre-campaign period activities are still common.
Violators are not only prospective candidates but also city and provincial legislators, political parties’ chapter leaders, aides of incumbent lawmakers and paid party officials. Most of them are also the organizers of election campaigns during the official campaign periods.
Concerns are growing that large sums of money will be spent again this year to establish larger and stronger organizations to back candidates. Election laws do not allow a candidate to spend money to form such an organization, so illegal money will find its way there.
Statistics also show the seriousness of the situation. According to the election watchdog agency, 2,297 violations were found earlier this year in connection with the April elections. That is nearly three times the number of violations reported during the same period before the last legislative elections.
The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs said a week ago that it had discovered 960 election law violations. That is a jump of similar magnitude.
The people are disappointed and angry because of election money scandals. Presidential aides and lawmakers have been arrested, but the violations go on. The upcoming elections will be spoiled despite people’s hope that they will be different from past ones. The election agency must take a drastic step against this corrupt election culture. A severe crackdown and strict punishment are the only way to get things back under control and clean.
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