[EDITORIALS]Politics stinksPoliticians here are again at odds, engaging in an endless and fruitless battle. The fact that the ruling Uri Party and the country’s largest opposition party, the Grand National Party, are at the center of this conflict makes the people anxious. Both parties are the only ones in the National Assembly large enough to have legislative bargaining leverage; they account for 90 percent of the seats in the Assembly. So in effect the whole Korean political world is engaged in this tiresome battle. The tit-for-tat political infighting has been going on since the end of February. Why should politics take backward steps when the economy, culture and sports sectors of this country are advancing towards the world?
Let’s take a look at the remarks made by the leaders and spokesmen of both parties on recent issues. We have the incident in which Choi Yeon-hee, a Grand National Party lawmaker, was involved in the sexual harassment of a female reporter; we have former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan’s golf scandal; we have controversial tennis games by Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak and then we have a Blue House official killing his wife. These are not clear-cut grand scale incidents involving bribery, but incidents in which the motives of officials or senior politicians were questioned. Without being able to provide definitive evidence, attacks are being conducted on the basis of suspicions. Lawmakers, under the pretext of finding out the truth, formed investigative groups and went on to question golf caddies, or waitresses working at the bar in question. The Grand National Party has asked for a criminal investigation of Mr. Lee while the Uri Party has asked for one targeting the Seoul mayor. Now they are asking for a national investigation. They are out to get any negative shred of fact, however small.
The reason is that if either party loses badly in the local elections in May, the party leadership will be asked to take responsibility, because politicians believe the very existence of the party would be at stake. The local elections are a bellwether for the presidential election next year. To win, it does not matter right now whether the quality of politics hits rock bottom; nor does it matter whether the people criticize the parties. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to think the people will endlessly endure arrogant and irresponsible politicians.
How long can this last? Politics that is aimed just at blowing a hole in the opposition should be stopped. Better to think about how to get votes and come up with good policy, while working and competing with good people.