[EDITORIALS]New leaders, old problems

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[EDITORIALS]New leaders, old problems

An Uri Party committee deliberated yesterday on naming a new interim leadership, and was expected to give the party’s chairmanship to the legislator Kim Geun-tae. The public now is watching how the ruling party and the administration will run the government.
After the National Assembly election in 2004 that gave Uri a legislative majority, the public sent warnings to the ruling party in two by-elections last year. But each time the governing party was defeated, the only thing that happened was that the chairman resigned. In other words, the party indulged in quick fixes.
Popular frustration with the party mounted as the public continued to be ignored by the party. In the end, resentment exploded in the crushing defeat in last week’s local elections.
The most pressing issue for the new leadership of the party is to analyze why they lost the elections. They first need to reflect on why they fell in disgrace to be the least-supported ruling party in history. Only then can they come up with the right solutions and find ways to survive.
At the moment, the Uri Party is divided into factions because of the devastating defeat. The progressive group says they lost the election because “the reformist policies were not properly promoted.” But the pragmatist faction counters, “The reformist-driven policy led the public to turn away from us.”
In the meantime, the president and the government are acting obstinate, saying they will not seek any changes in policies.
The construction minister, Choo Byung-jik, said, “We will never touch the real estate policies,” adding, “There is no plan for talks between the party and the administration about the real estate policies.” Such obstinacy led even a ruling party member to say, “Minister Choo is only displaying bravado.” He called Mr. Choo the “stereotype of the bureaucratic dictatorship.”
Kim Geun-tae has been categorized as a “leftist” by some party members, because he represents the party’s faction of lawmakers who came from a student activist background. But the ruling party has no other obvious choice for a temporary leader, and naming Mr. Kim may be the limit that it has to face. Therefore, there is a voice of concern that the governing party may go back to its old ideological struggle.
But the party should keep in mind that the election results are not about ideology but about the practical problems being faced by the public.
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