Who gets elected?The campaign for the 17th presidential election culminates 22 days from tomorrow, marking the fifth direct election for the Korean presidency since the democratization announcement of 1987.
The zeitgeist for the upcoming presidential race can be defined in two ways.
On the one hand, we need to restore the nation’s dignity. We need to reunite a nation which has been long plagued by immature ideological confrontation and parochial hatred.
We also need to build new growth engines and relieve public concerns and face daunting challenges -- inflation, unemployment, polarization and private tutoring. Therefore, the historic meaning of this presidential election is more significant than ever.
However, voters seem to be in utter bewilderment. Both conservatives and liberals are in a gloomy mood.
The leading presidential hopeful of the conservative opposition party is endangered by his amoral code of conduct, whereas Lee Hoi-chang is a person who was willing to betray principle because of his own selfish ambition.
Liberals made a fuss to try to unite under the banner of practicality, but the effort fizzled in vain. Their catchphrase -- the reestablishment of a government run by a peaceful reformist force ― ended in sweet talk.
The progressive Democratic Labor Party is at a low ebb, due to repeated mistakes and extremism.
A fresh independent candidate, who is expected to be powerful enough to break through the difficult situation, does not appear to be on the horizon at this late time.
The political strife is getting aggravated, with the lack of policy competition concerning economy, education, employment and reunification issues.
Even though the election is just around the corner, a clear analysis on the morality of the leading candidate with the highest approval rating has yet to be unveiled. Voters are only paying attention to the prosecution to find out whether the allegedly fraudulent family accusing him is telling the truth or not.
In the remaining 22-day period of presidential campaigning, voters can only make a rational second best choice, be they conservative or liberal.
Is the candidate who is committed to reviving the economy the right choice, despite his immorality? Or is the candidate who is begging for one more opportunity, despite a five-year maladministration, the right choice?
The outcome rests with the voters.
Perhaps after five more years, voters can look forward to better candidates and better policy competition.
Meanwhile, voters must endure this presidential race with excruciating patience that is far more painful than what the candidates are experiencing.