[EDITORIALS]A step away from chaosThe Blue House and the governing party, badly hurt and totally confused in the aftermath of a crushing defeat in the May 31 local elections, agreed yesterday on a new direction for the time being.
They agreed to untangle the conflict between the two sides over the resignation of Education Minister Kim Byong-joon and to establish a onsultative body of the Uri Party and the administration to address pending political issues. President Roh Moo-hyun also stressed that he would not defect from his party, though he mentioned chances for recruiting the next presidential nominee from outside the Uri Party.
These measures are a step in the right direction for the beleaguered party. Because we are fully aware that conflicts between the governing party and the the Blue House are not a matter of petty party politics but serious national problems, we have requested that the president and his governing party remember their sense of shared responsibility and form a consultative body, as was done in the past. Furthermore, we have emphatically stated that the president’s withdrawal from the his party would be extremely irresponsible in terms of political accountability.
In retrospect, we can say that the recent fiasco happened because the governing party leaders could not deal properly with their defeat in the May local elections. The party members claimed that they lost elections due to dismal presidential approval ratings and pressured the president to change his policies. On the other hand, the president felt a sense of betrayal, as he saw the party leadership abandon its “principles of common fate” and engage in power struggles.
As these two pillars of the government rocked about in the aftermath of the elections, Korean politics fell into a state of confusion and people grew all the more anxious. The possibility of the president’s defection from his party was a major source of that anxiety.
If he did so, the term “governing party” would lose its meaning, and the Uri Party would simply become one of many parties in Korean politics. Administration-governing party consultations would cease. The administration would have no one to consult with when dealing with legislative matters.
The conflict between the two have not disappeared ― they have merely gone into hiding. The conflict could reoccur when Mr. Roh appoints a new justice minister. The governing party needs to run the newly formed consultative body wisely to decrease any potential for conflict, and must restore political accountability to prevent more chaos.