Let’s act like grownupsListening to the squabbling between the two presidential hopefuls from the Grand National Party is enough to make one lose hope. On Friday, the two met and exchanged words that made one doubt whether they were even from the same party. Worse, the level of allegations these two threw at each other made one wonder if they were actually preschoolers.
Lee Myung-bak, the former mayor of Seoul, and Park Geun-hye, the former GNP leader, are at odds because they both want to become the party candidate and they are determined to set the rules for the primary race to their own advantage. While the two had finally reached an agreement in March on the primary race rules after much arguing, they have again clashed over the exact ratio of votes to be counted in the primary race. Ms. Park wants to average the votes of party representatives, party members and the general public as the present party constitution stipulates. Mr. Lee wants the votes of the general public to count for 50 percent and for opinion polls to count as 40,000 votes out of a total of 200,000 votes. The party’s chairman, Kang Jae-sup, is supposed to come up with a compromise, but it does not seem that the two will reach an agreement easily.
It is up to the Grand National Party how they decide to choose their presidential candidate. So long as the party adheres to the principles of democracy, there is no reason for outsiders to intervene in the process. However, it is different if egoistic figures who can’t even agree on the rules of a primary become the chief executives of this country.
When direct presidential elections were finally established in Korea as a result of the June democratization movement in 1987, the two opposition leaders, Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung, split and ran separately for president. On the surface, the two Mr. Kims also split because of a discrepancy over primary election rules. It is widely thought, however, that the candidates lost the presidential race because of their separation and that they let selfish interests come before the nation’s desire for democracy and change.
It seems that Mr. Lee and Ms. Park are under some kind of illusion because they are currently first and second in the popularity votes.
It would be a serious mistake for them to think that a Grand National Party candidacy will guarantee them the presidential race.
Even if one of them should indeed become president, such obstinacy and complacency would be a serious hindrance to democratic governance.