[EDITORIALS]Value constitutionalismThis year is the 20th year since our country became a democracy. In 1987, as military rulers established a despotic constitution, citizens poured out onto the streets. Students, workers, reform forces without power and even white collar workers joined the protest against military rule.
The administration finally surrendered and promised to have direct votes to elect the president. Followed by the miracle on the Han River, the democratization of Korea was regarded as a miracle by the world.
Since then, we have had four administrations, and at the end of this year we will have our fifth presidential election. In that sense, our democracy has been successful.
At the dawn of the 20th anniversary of our democracy, we have to ask ourselves a question.
Are we keeping our hard-earned democracy well?
Elections alone do not bring democracy. An election is an important yardstick for democracy, but it is not sufficient. For instance, Germany fell under the rule of the Nazis through an election.
Along with elections, another important factor is to establish constitutionalism. Without constitutionalism, the majority rule can be misused in a democracy.
These days, our society is suffering too much license. The law and law-enforcement powers are not respected as they should be.
Peaceful power transfers have taken place, but society has become more chaotic. Twenty years after democratization, our constitutionalism is being shaken.
That is the same with confrontations over ideologies. In democratic politics, progressives and conservatives tend to confront each other over measures and policies.
Some say in an advanced political system, progressives and conservatives take turns in assuming power. Thus, confrontation between the two forces can even be desirable in theory. But such competition must take place inside the framework of our country.
If the conflict goes to the extent that it threatens the survival of the country and overthrows the Constitution, such extreme conflict becomes like a fight between two enemies. Democracy then cannot work properly in such a society.
The presidential election is to be held this year. All our interests may be focused on the election. Unless we are very careful, confrontation that goes to the extreme might lead to disorder and chaos in our society.
We should once again remember the importance of constitutionalism.