[Viewpoint]Trying timesThe Grand National Party, which had been enjoying peace and prosperity, has finally been confronted with a crisis.
According to the fortune tellers of the Grand National Party, the party is now in a situation where another misfortune has been added to the existing one; when it rains, it pours; and where they have to suffer not only from internal worries, but external troubles.
The Grand National Party has lost only once, in the 17th general election in April 2004.
It has been smooth sailing since. In the many by-elections, re-elections and local elections since then, the party has continuously defeated the governing party by a landslide.
The governing party became jealous because the big two presidential candidates, Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, both belonged to the party.
Yet it will not be easy for the Grand National Party to win the upcoming presidential election. The trials and hardships which had been predicted are swooping in from all directions.
The impending Grand National Party crisis is multilayered and complex. The knot is tangled in a complicated way, and is not easy to untie.
First of all, there are two complicated internal problems. The party’s two top candidates have been viciously attacking each other in the party primary, with one side calling the other side “a land speculator.” The other side responded by saying its rival side “followed the will of her late friend, Choi Tae-min.”
The victor must embrace the loser after the primary is held on Aug. 19.
The party’s presidential candidate will be officially announced the following day.
However, how will the Grand National Party have the nerve to ask the people to vote for the party’s candidate after the two rivals condemned each other, saying the other was not fit to become president?
The first sign of crisis came when the second inter-Korean summit meeting was announced. Using the summit meeting as their rallying point, the pro-government political forces will publicize “peace on the peninsula” and “inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation” as its new political platform to win voters.
That platform will put them on the far opposite of the agenda set by the Grand National Party ― the economy and “national dignity.” If the Grand National Party opposes the summit meeting too strongly, they could easily be stigmatized as “Cold War nuts.”
And if it sides with the summit meeting, it will get caught up in the logic of “peace and reconciliation” with the North that President Roh and his administration, and the pro-government political forces, have already dominated. This puts the party in a dilemma.
The Grand National Party’s position makes the unification of the pro-government forces another thorny issue.
The Grand Unification Democratic New Party declared its merger with the Uri Party one day after the announcement of the South and North Korean summit meeting.
The two parties wrangled over the issue of whether the “pro-Roh forces” should be welcomed or not when the two merged, but the wrangling stopped suddenly when the summit talk schedule was announced. Not one person objected to the merger.
Why? They made the realistic calculation that they should ride the tide of the inter-Korean summit as quickly and as far as possible.
They know they cannot benefit from the South and North Korean summit meeting if they turn their back on the summit’s protagonist, President Roh, and the pro-Roh forces around him.
In short, the South and North Korean summit meeting catalyzed the integration of diverse pro-government forces into one.
The movie “May 18” is a subtle but painful jab at the Grand National Party.
If the party complains about the movie, it will probably be criticized as “nuts who don’t understand art.”
But just ignoring it feels like leaving something stuck in the throat.
Some people even consider a series of movies, from “Joint Security Area,” “Welcome to Dongmakgol,” “The President’s Last Bang,” “The President’s Barber,” “Silmido” and “Taegukgi: Brotherhood of War” to “May 18,” as the progressives’ cultural offensive against the conservatives.
Needless to say, a movie is just a movie. But the situation created by the movie is not at all favorable to the Grand National Party.
It is clear the crisis in the Grand National Party has just begun.
If there were no inter-Korean summit meeting, no grand unification of the pro-government political forces, and no movie that recollected the painful memories of the Gwangju massacre in 1980, the presidential election might go off with a lot more ease.
However, that is nothing but an empty hope held by uninformed people.
The negotiations on the inter-Korean summit meeting were already ongoing when President Roh said, “The next president cannot void any agreement with North Korea on which I stamp my seal.”
Experts had predicted the pro-government forces would reunite after breaking into different factions when a group of Uri Party lawmakers performed their planned bolt from the party four months ago. The cultural circle offensive was also expected.
The Grand National Party should be ready to overcome even harsher trials from now on. They say even rivers and mountains change in 10 years. There is no way the political force that has been in power for 10 years will easily hand over the government.
The only way left for the Grand National Party is to confront the crisis head on. It must honestly acknowledge that there was a time like the movie “May 18” in the past, and prove that the Grand National Party of today is different from the Grand National Party of yesterday.
It must show to the public realistically that the party members have changed and that the political philosophy of the party has also changed.
It also has to present a blueprint that shows how the party will revive the economy and lead the future of the nation.
If it fails to do so, it will fail to grasp political power. If it touches the hearts of the people, however, the Grand National Party will succeed.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Kim Du-woo