[VIEWPOINT]Let’s now see if the elected leaders deliver

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[VIEWPOINT]Let’s now see if the elected leaders deliver

While observing the campaign for the local elections last week, I thought again about politics and elections, plain and often-discussed issues.
There can be as many definitions of politics as there are a variety of scholarly opinions.
If we follow a relatively common view among scholars, we can define politics as an action or activity that coordinates confrontation and conflicts of ideas and interests, thus helping society reach an orderly consensus.
As we can see in this definition, conflicts between contending interests in our lives are unavoidable.
Coordinating these contending interests in a rational way is important not only for individual members of society whose interests are directly involved, but also for leaders who engage in politics, because society as a whole can only develop when the interests of its different parts are balanced.
Unlike previous elections, the concept of “manifesto” was highlighted this year, because I think our society has come to recognize recurring problems with achieving that balance in our country.
The word manifesto denotes a policy and a pledge; the “manifesto movement” is designed to hold winners of public office to their word ― to stand by their campaign pledges after election.
For the recent local elections, the National Election Commission has promoted races based on policy, even providing a center for the newly established manifesto movement.
It was a desirable development although it came a little belatedly.
An example of a politician adhering to a manifesto is Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom.
He has been making good on his campaign pledges faithfully since being elected to Parliament.
The campaign pledges of politicians are their promises to the people who elected them and are the conditions attached to their election to public office.
Therefore, a politician who doesn’t deliver on a campaign pledge has not just broken his own promise, but has also failed to satisfy the conditions attached to his election.
On the other hand, it is not only the politicians who should be blamed for the widely held distrust of politicians in our society.
Politicians who forget campaign pledges after elections are to blame.
Yet, the voters who are blinded by pork-barrel pledges without considering the feasibility of their implementation are just as culpable for their mistake.
Even worse, politicians who don’t keep their campaign pledges can get re-elected in subsequent elections.
When this happens, the politicians concerned will neglect even more their pledges to the electorate.
And their example will make it harder for other politicians who try to keep their campaign pledges to win public trust.
It is not right to say that all politicians are not trustworthy, or to cast a ballot for a candidate with an agreeable image, out of desperation or the belief that the results will be the same whoever gets elected.
Whether or not, in the past, politicians have delivered on their campaign pledges, andwhether or not people paid proper attention to the matter ― the point is that it has emerged as an important issue in our elections.
This is proof that the political culture of our society has developed to some extent.
However there still remain worries that elections in our country have not yet grown out of image politics.
All our people should monitor carefully the delivery on campaign pledges made by the election winners so that the manifesto movement launched in the recent elections takes root firmly, contributing to further development of our society.
No less important is checking how specific and achievable the campaign pledges are. Particularly in the case of development projects, pledges that may be for a good cause but with side-effects or costs larger than anticipated will only increase the burden on the shoulders of the people.
Keeping this in mind, we have to check carefully how the budget is financed, look at concrete implementation plans and examine all anticipated results and side-effects.
Lastly, I congratulate all winners of the last elections and, as a citizen, request that they faithfully implement their practicable campaign pledges.

* The writer is a professor of law at Konkuk University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Choi Yoon-hee
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