[EDITORIALS]Party chapters must stay shut

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[EDITORIALS]Party chapters must stay shut

In the political community, a debate over the decision to abolish district party chapters has been raised again. Not only the heads of district party chapters, but also some officials at party headquarters, object to the abolition.
They claim, “When we abolish local party chapters, the function of collecting local public opinion and reflecting it in policy will also disappear.”
But given the damage the local chapters inflicted on Korean politics, abiding by the law stipulating their abolition is the first priority. In reality, the local chapters were money guzzlers. Incumbent lawmakers or the heads of local chapters of the major parties had to spend large amounts to maintain the chapters. To do so, they accepted dubious money and this resulted in political corruption and wrongdoing.
The self-scorn of politicians who referred to themselves as those “who walk on the prison wall” stemmed from the burden of maintaining local chapters. The reason why all elections in the past were tainted with vote buying and illegal voter mobilization was because the parties maintained huge organizations in local chapters that made such illegal activities possible. This is why the ruling and opposition parties agreed to revise the law.
It is desirable that contact with local voters and collecting their opinions be left to local governments and members of the local councils, and lawmakers should strengthen their cooperation with them. In the past, lawmakers showed an attitude of sticking to the interests of their electoral districts instead of thinking in a broader framework.
According to the National Election Commission, there is the possibility that local chapters disguised as private offices or research institutes are being operated. Such pseudo-party chapters will be utilized for election campaigns and turned into publicity organs for a candidate when election season approaches. This is unfair, and it has nothing to do with collecting local public opinion.
The 17th National Assembly election has been evaluated as the cleanest ever. But, if pseudo-party chapters under other names appear, Korea’s political clock will run in reverse. These should be rooted out through thorough checks.
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