[EDITORIALS]Roh takes the blamePresident Roh Moo-hyun said yesterday that he would accept the Uri Party’s defeat in the by-elections on Wednesday as “the people’s evaluation of the president’s performance in state affairs.” With this remark he has made his position on the party’s total election defeat clear. President Roh kept his silence when the governing party recorded the worst-ever election defeat by losing in all 23 elections for the legislature and local government posts on April 30. We pay attention to the fact that he had an immediate reaction this time. That is because the election results are a warning that the level of estrangement of public sentiment toward his administration is serious.
In practice, by-elections tend to be mid-term evaluations of the administration rather than evaluations of the candidates themselves. The governing party should be in an advantageous position over the opposition as far as the pool of talented people is concerned. Nevertheless, Uri suffered from two consecutive landslide defeats in by-elections this year. They were the solemn judgement of the people on those in power. Mr. Roh recognizes himself as being responsible and is not passing the buck to the party. Now that he has recognized his faults, he should find out why the people rejected him and change the direction of the administration.
With an attitude that “although the present administration managed the economy and foreign relations well, the people do not appreciate it,” he cannot find a solution. People think that the administration is only busy playing political games while the economy is stagnant, jobless people overflow and the gap between the rich and the poor grows wider. This is how people see the current administration, as reflected in many opinion polls. Therefore, the first priority of the administration should be reviving the economy and relieving the difficulties in the people’s livelihood.
It is a big miscalculation if Mr. Roh thinks that he can escape from a crisis by using a political witticism like the “grand coalition” that he proposed earlier. It is not desirable for the president to try, as a follow-up to the coalition proposal, to play a survival game staking his term in office, or prematurely fan public debate on constitutional revision. It is even more dangerous to cling to the idea of an inter-Korean summit meeting. If he tries to find a way out by shaking the nation, people will suffer catastrophic consequences.
Mr. Roh has another two years and four months to go. That is still a long way, and that means he has time to recover from his earlier failures. The shortcut to a solution lies in managing state affairs in the direction people want to go instead of playing with political gambits.