[OUTLOOK]Work together for good of nationThe results of the upcoming local elections are almost known. Public opinion is clearly in favor of the Grand National Party. The Uri Party has been begging to prevent the opposition party from making a clean sweep of the elections.
The Grand National Party’s approval rating had hovered at around 20 percent until recently but has now surged to nearly 50 percent.
Things were the same four years ago. With the general election drawing near, the Grand Nationals won an overwhelming victory in local elections. Victory in the general election seemed certain. But the party lost.
Why does history keep sending the same messages to the Grand National Party?
I think that this time the opposition party’s victory could place it in jeopardy. That is the basic trait in winning. Winners tend to be overly proud of themselves, particularly when they are not mature enough. This applies to political parties as well. Unexpected support from citizens can ruin a party.
A senior member of the Uri Party said it was hard to understand that citizens favored a party of which many senior members had taken bribes of thousands of millions of won (millions of dollars) from those seeking nomination as heads of local governments.
As poll surveys showed, however, this is not because people think of the Grand National Party as a trustworthy party, but because they have been very disappointed in this administration.
Four years ago, the Grand National Party was almost certain of victory in the general election. Later, the party blamed candle-light vigils and the Internet for its failure. But the real reason was a taste of victory too soon. The Grand National presidential candidate acted as if he had already been elected, and people around him wasted time wrangling over major posts.
The Grand National Party could be in more serious jeopardy this time. In the last election campaigns, dominance by one candidate was the problem. But now two prospective candidates are competing with each other and some experts analyze that appointing one candidate will fail.
These people expect that two conservative candidates will be appointed and one candidate from the ruling party and civic organizations. In such a case, the Grand National Party’s defeat is a sure bet.
The Grand National Party will win the local elections without difficulty. But it needs to listen to every voter. Cab drivers cry out for more passengers. Young unemployed people want jobs. Young married couples demand that the government stop putting all its energy into keeping affluent Gangnam, or southern Seoul, under control, and wish to find their own homes.
The Grand National Party can no longer say that it is an opposition party with no controlling power.
Although these elections are for posts at local governments, the circumstances indicate that the government should be replaced. Therefore, the Grand National Party should feel responsible after these elections as if it were a governing party.
This government has already lost support from citizens. Even when it wants to carry out measures or projects, it cannot induce sufficient driving force.
However, we cannot simply leave one and a half years of President Roh’s remaining term as a state of monarchy who exists but does not rule. We should prevent further problems from occurring in the nation.
To do so, the Grand National Party, not only the Uri Party, needs to help President Roh manage the administration. It needs to help him in doing work that will benefit the country, whether it is of advantage or disadvantage to the party. A free trade agreement with the United States, which should be finalized before Mr. Roh’s tenure ends, is a good example of this.
The opposition party should stop being opportunistic. The party should say exactly what we can provide to North Korea and what we should not. It needs to present an alternative to the government’s real estate policy, which is focused on decreasing house prices in southern Seoul and imposing heavy taxes on profits from selling houses in that area. If the party opposes an egalitarian-oriented education system, it needs to design a new system. It also needs to present a way to build a decent country while protecting democracy.
Gaining support from people, not because they favor the Grand National Party, but because they oppose the Uri Party, is like a mirage. When the precondition disappears, the support will also go. If the Grand National Party is confident enough, it can accept the grand coalition that President Roh suggested one year ago. Citizens are not interested whether leaders belong to a governing or an opposition party.
We would like to see leaders work together in times of crisis.
* The writer is the chief editor of the editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk