[EDITORIALS]A warning from the peopleThe political community should take the results of Saturday’s by-elections seriously. The ruling party in particular should humbly reflect on why it was defeated completely. These results were a warning from the people about the arrogance of the ruling camp and its chaotic operation of the government since President Roh Moo-hyun resumed his presidential duties.
There have been many examples of this. The Blue House and Our Open Party tried to forcibly reshuffle the cabinet, resulting only in the premature resignation of the prime minister. By backing a politician who’d bolted from the opposition party to be the next prime minister, the ruling camp aroused objection from the opposition, and conflict within itself. At a lecture to university students, President Roh disparaged the conservatives, wounding their pride, and said he disagreed with “the economic crisis theory,” claiming there was an agenda behind it. He showed that his views are far from the majority’s.
Calling for reform of the mass media and the judiciary, the ruling party has dodged issues related to people’s livelihood, and has overlooked extraordinary signs of cracks in the relationship between Washington and Seoul. So-called powerful figures in the party have been grumbling over who would take which post. Had the ruling party won the election despite all this, it would have been strange indeed.
Other interpretations are possible. Some insist that we not read too much into them, because they were local elections, and turnout was below 30 percent. But an election is the most important political event in a democracy. These, in particular, were termed a miniature nationwide election, as they were open to more than a third of the electorate. No one can deny that the results reflect the people’s will.
The ruling camp shouldn’t downplay the elections’ importance, and the Blue House shouldn’t pretend that it had nothing to do with the results because it didn’t intervene in candidate recommendations. If the ruling camp fails to recognize its defeat, attributing the results to regional sentiments or to low turnout among young people, the country’s future will get gloomier. The ruling camp must take this as a chance to humbly read the people’s thoughts, and to realign its ideas and attitudes.