Irrational oppositionWhat will happen if a strong contender in the presidential election is assassinated days before the election? There have been two occasions when strong presidential contenders died shortly before elections. In 1956, Shin Ik-hee, the Democratic Party’s candidate for the third presidential election, died. In 1960, Cho Byeong-ok died ― he was a candidate in the fourth presidential election. As a result, Syngman Rhee, the Liberal Party’s candidate, was elected with ease. But the people’s discomfort with the election result was expressed through the April Revolution in 1960.
The possibility of a competitive presidential candidate being in danger has increased. In May last year Park Geun-hye, the former Grand National Party chairman, was attacked by a vagrant. Such people can go after anybody.
There is also the possibility that North Korea could mastermind an attack, as it has tried in the past, because it increasingly seeks to intervene in South Korea’s domestic politics. Extreme rightists might target a presidential candidate from the ruling party’s circle. We must do our best to prevent these things from happening.
But we also need to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
In this respect, it was good that the Grand National Party and the Uri Party agreed on June 14 to postpone the election by 30 days if a major presidential candidate dies. A major candidate is the one with the highest or second highest approval ratings.
The subcommittee on election law, in a special committee meeting for political relations at the National Assembly, made the decision to revise the election law.
Under the current election law, a party cannot register a new candidate when six days or more have passed since the deadline of registration for presidential candidates, which is 24 days before the election day.
The death of a strong candidate guarantees his or her rival’s victory. But if the election day is postponed by 30 days, things can start afresh.
However, the Uri Party has suddenly departed from the agreement and that is hard to understand.
Yun Ho-jung, the Uri Party member on the special committee, argued that a presidential hopeful in second place might attack his party’s leading candidate in an attempt to delay the election.
But the possibility of this seems very slim.
This is not an issue for partisan political maneuvering ― the Uri Party’s opposition is irrational.
The presidency is a vital post that defines the fate of a country. We must not let extreme criminals exert a critical influence over the presidential election.