[Viewpoint]Be careful of a bear market, GNPThe Grand National Party enjoys support from half of the voters in the nation, and its two leading presidential candidates together rate above 70 percent in national polls. It is indeed a very high rate of market occupancy and unusual in politics, with a presidential election just around the corner.
The Grand National Party demonstrated its high popularity by sweeping almost every National Assembly seat at the re-elections and by-elections following the 2004 general election, putting the party on top as a high-yield blue chip stock.
If the Grand National Party takes power by winning the presidential election at the end of the year, the people who bought shares in the Grand National Party will be hitting the jackpot.
However, the by-elections on Wednesday made us wonder whether the Grand National Party really is a blue chip stock.
People started to raise questions about the party’s potential for a stronger profit. In other words, they’ve begun to distrust the market. Why the skepticism?
Well, the Grand National Party stock is vulnerable to changes in the business cycle.
And the main reason for its failure lies in a belief in the theory that the Grand National candidate is destined to win the election.
The market of the presidential election is under the oligopoly of former Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, former chairwoman of the Grand National Party.
Even if the approval ratings of five to six candidates from the ruling camp are put together, they are far lower than the approval ratings of either of the two.
The two leading candidates have raised their standing by confronting President Roh Moo-hyun.
The working-class people, who believe their standard of living had become more difficult, support former Mayor Lee, who promises to be an economy-first president.
The conservatives who have stigmatized President Roh as a leftist support Park.
The high approval ratings of the two leading Grand National Party candidates reflect the image of President Roh.
And here lies the reason the Grand National Party candidates won almost all of their by-elections and re-elections one after another, when anti-Roh fever was at its height.
However, the presidential election is a different story. Even if a candidate stands against the president and criticizes his misrule, he will not get many votes.
It was because of this that Lee Hoi-chang, the presidential candidate of the Grand National Party in the last election, was defeated by an unexpected star candidate, Roh Moo-hyun.
That happened even though Lee created the notion that his election victory was inevitable if he criticized the misrule of former President Kim Dae-jung.
Let’s take a closer look at the competition between the two leading presidential candidates of the Grand National Party.
First, there is no vision for the future.
Our politicians are busy digging up the past. They are still busy with the old way of doing things, such as getting legislators to swear loyalty to them and competing to induce political heavyweights to their side.
The frontrunner, former Mayor Lee, is not running an aggressive campaign by setting the agenda putting forth his blueprint for the future. Like a rich man cautious about his health, Lee behaves passively. It is a big mistake if he thinks he has succeeded in creating the image of a “CEO President” by restoring the Cheonggyecheon and presenting a plan to construct a canal between Seoul and Busan.
Ms. Park seems to be devoted to launching attacks on her rival. Her strong emphasis on ethical aspects pushed out discussions about ideology and policies.
She is wasting the experience and know-how in state affairs that she acquired while in the role of the first lady for five years in place of her late mother, and the valuable opportunity she received to make use of her wide human network.
If the Grand National Party wants to win in the forthcoming presidential election, the pattern of competition between the two leading candidates should first be changed.
They should get rid of the veil of the past and transform the party boldly to become born again with a focus on the future.
They must compete on shaping the future of Korea that they dream of, the plan they need to make that happen and on changing the Grand National Party itself. If sharp offensives and graceful defenses are added to the competition, it will succeed as a performance. Of course, it can attract a lot more investors. Whether the Grand National Party becomes a blue chip stock depends on the performances of the two leading candidates of the party.
*The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Lee Jung-min
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