[EDITORIALS]Party needs to come of ageThe Democratic Party earned a National Assembly seat in a Seoul district in the July 26 by-election. With the election of Chough Soon-hyung in the Seongbuk voting district, northern Seoul, the party found a chance to overcome its limit as a party born in the Jeolla province. In particular, the minor opposition party now has higher status in the political scene, as the governing Uri Party has lost its power, leading to a need for political realignment. The Democratic Party now bears the responsibility to meet the high expectations of the voters, who gave them a springboard in Seoul, by serving the role of a responsible political party.
In particular, the election of Mr. Chough gives more weight to the Democratic Party, as he was the initiator of the impeachment move against President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004. It can be a signal that voters who are against both the president and the major opposition Grand National Party are looking at the Democratic Party as an alternative.
The Uri Party, meanwhile, has not won a single seat in the three by-elections since 2004. Wednesday’s by-election is also meaningful in that it shows the change in heart of former Uri supporters, now moving to the Democratic Party. In the May 31 local elections, the Democratic Party shared half the seats in Jeolla province, and now it’s moving toward Seoul and the metropolitan area. In the other Seoul voting district at the Wednesday by-election, where the Democratic Party did not present a candidate, the Uri Party earned only two-thirds of the votes it received in the 2004 legislative election.
This is why we are giving keener attention to the future moves of the Democratic Party. The party has first to make an analysis of why the Uri Party lost public support, together with proper alternatives. In particular, the party must first present policies in national security, diplomacy and economy, which show its clear distinction from Uri and the Grand National Party. The Democratic Party cannot serve as a real political entity when it only holds superficial gatherings.
The basis of political party politics is competition and checks. The Uri Party has lost the impetus, so it is only natural that an alternative party is now needed. However, it should not be a political party that is based on a specific region or a simple gathering around a strong presidential candidate. The Democratic Party must keep in mind that its future depends on whether it can break free from its regional parochialism and prove itself as an alternate political force.