[EDITORIALS]Roh and the electionsA week has passed since the local elections that led to the unprecedented devastating defeat of the governing party. But President Roh Moo-hyun just keeps his silence. According to a Gallup Korea poll of the public, 85 percent of respondents attributed the election results to President Roh. Other polls offer the same perspective. So the public gave him a caning in hopes for a better administration, but the president appears to be saying, “I can tolerate that much whipping with no problem.”
In a representative democracy, the public expresses its opinion by voting. The leader of the country is given the highest post in the national hierarchy by those votes. So it is proper for the president to humbly accept the lesson from the public, to reflect on what he did and to speak on how he will lead the administration in his remaining tenure. Mr. Roh made only a brief mention of those themes on Tuesday, and his rhetoric was rather canny. “I accept it as a trend of public opinion,” he said, suggesting that he would ignore the voters’ opinion because it was nothing but a “trend” that could change from moment to moment.
It appears strange for Mr. Roh to have said, “Democracy is not something that makes a country prosper or collapse as a result of one or two elections, nor does it raise up a political party or throw it to the ground in a couple of elections.” But wasn’t Mr. Roh himself elected president by the voters?
In a survey by Core Research and Consulting, nine out of 10 respondents demanded a change in the foundations of the administration’s management of the country. But the president was quick to say there will be no change in his policies, and his ministers are parroting that line.
In his first official speech after the election, at the commemoration ceremony on Memorial Day, Mr. Roh said, “It is now time to end the disunity and to unite the national strength.”
Mr. Roh was indeed correct in saying that. Disunity was the very reason that the public turned its back on the president. Mr. Roh also said in his speech, “Self-righteousness, obstinacy, exclusion and elimination are the enemies of democracy.”
That sounded strange coming from Mr. Roh. He must himself break free from his self-righteousness and obstinacy and his tendency to cover his eyes and ears from the public mind.
And then he must take responsibility for the election results and reflect on what he did wrong to cause those results.