[EDITORIALS]A return to regionalismFollowing the Oct. 16 by-elections, the political community is busy reshuffling. Such a movement appears problematic, however, as it is focused only on garnering votes in a certain region, regardless of political identity or philosophy. It is nothing but a move to call back the specter of regionally-based politics that this country has been slowly overcoming with difficulty.
The recent reaction of the governing Uri Party leadership was quite a sight, when it heard former President Kim Dae-jung saying, “You are the successor of my politics” and “You need to earn back the votes from traditional support.” The spokesman was in a hurry to publicize the comments and the party chairman said, “I earned confidence and courage.” The secretary-general said, “It’s a call for the political groups aiming for democracy and peaceful unification to go together, hand-in-hand.”
The Democratic Party also appeared unseemly, trying to downplay the former president’s comment as “a common line that Mr. Kim frequently tells junior politicians, who are with him.” Party members were busy stressing that they are the successors to the former president’s political career. So Mr. Kim holds sway over both the governing Uri Party and the opposition Democratic Party.
Following the by-election defeat, the governing party announced that it would be reborn as a whole new party. But did that mean an effort to take advantage of the former president to attract votes in the Jeolla provinces? By doing so, the party is only denying its own raison d’etre, as it was the one that bade farewell to the Democratic Party, calling for “breaking regionalism-based politics.” Now, less than two years after its launch, the party is trying to merge with the Democratic Party again, after seeing its support rate hit rock bottom.
Meanwhile, the first thing the new party, tentatively named the People’s Central Party, did was to promise to merge with the minor opposition United Liberal Democrats, based in the Chungcheong provinces. So, the Uri Party is going back to the Jeolla provinces and the People’s Central Party is going back to the Chungcheong provinces. These are immature acts.
In our political history, parties have manipulated regionalism, which has been ruinous to the country. When the Uri or People’s Central parties repeat such mistakes, they are committing crimes against history. They must stop the political maneuvering of returning to regionalism-based politics right away. Stop insulting the people.