[Outlook]‘It’s a transfer of power, stupid’One of the basic concepts of democracy is the transfer of political power through an election. The fact that the people in power might lose their influence if they run the country badly humbles them. This is how democratic politics can go on. If people in power refuse to turn it over, they are labeled as despots. Fascism, communism and socialism in South America belong to this category.
In Korea, some people want to block the possibility of a power turnover. President Roh Moo-hyun ignores decisions made by the National Election Commission and is determined to keep meddling in election campaigns.
Disregarding democratic institutions to intervene in election campaigns is anti-democratic as is creating the Constitution for Revitalizing Reform, which was designed by Park Chung Hee to help him assume power for life.
President Roh must be impeached for these acts; but it’s probable that nobody mentions this, because of bad memories from his impeachment crisis.
If the president’s illegal electioneering is not stopped, the transfer of power might disappear in Korea’s politics because the incumbent president has so much power.
The president ordered civil servants to probe the presidential hopefuls’ campaign pledges. The same thing happened under Park Chung Hee’s rule and other despotic military regimes.
Meanwhile, there is another person who says he needs to do something to prevent the transfer of power. This remark was made by the person who was elected president for his role as a pro-democracy fighter. Why is the former president who left office five years ago afraid of a power shift? Is he anxious that some big mistakes or misdeeds that have been hidden all along will be revealed?
One feels helpless to see how the Grand National Party is doing. For now, it is not important for the party’s two strongest contenders to have high approval ratings. It is not important to talk about how one strong contender is catching up to the other. While the ruling circle has not even produced a noticeable contender, the two hopefuls of the Grand National Party are fighting fiercely with each other for the party primary. President Roh and former President Kim Dae-jung have been fanning the fight.
With their joeys in their pouches, these two must now fight for their favorites by fighting the Grand National hopefuls. When the Grand National Party’s primary is over and the two contenders are left totally exhausted and wounded, then those two mother kangaroos will take out their baby contenders. But then, the people and the media will be sick and tired of the fight between the two hopefuls of the Grand National Party and pay attention to the newcomers. Why can’t the Grand National Party see that simple outcome?
The two Grand National presidential aspirants seem to believe that if the other disappears, he or she will automatically be elected. So they hate each other more than they hate their rivals from the ruling circle. In the party primary, the party selects a fighter who will advance to the final. Whoever that will be, the person must not be seriously injured. In the party primary, contenders should not fight mercilessly. The party just needs to see which hopeful is more competitive. Contenders must compete with wooden swords. If they fight with real swords, some or all might end up being seriously injured. The fiercer the two may fight, the happier their common rivals become.
The Grand National Party is now arrogant because its approval rating is several times higher than those of the ruling circle. Even without assuming power, the hopefuls and the party have become inundated with the joy of power. This is exactly the same as it was five years ago.
A storm is coming nearer, but the two leaders of the Grand National Party are fighting over a spot for a picnic. While those in power try their best to prevent the turnover, the two Grand National presidential hopefuls are fully charged for the party primary. Do the Grand National hopefuls believe that they will be able to win the presidential election after having a party primary this way?
If the party cannot achieve the transfer of power due to aftereffects of the party primary, there is no need for an opposition party. The two are competing to gather support from retired senior leaders in a bid to win the party primary. Do they mean that if the Grand National Party wins the election, it will turn back the clock and return us to the past?
What is the point if one wins a primary and cannot win the presidential election? When Bill Clinton competed with George H.W. Bush, he said, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Now I’d like to say this to the Grand National Party: “It’s a transfer of power, stupid.”
*The writer is the vice publisher and chief editor of the editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk
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