[Outlook]Does the UNDP ‘get it?’There was no single deadly blow. There was no last second reversal, either.
At least, that was the case for the ruling party’s circle, including the United New Democratic Party. The 17th presidential election in Korea ended that way.
The ruling party’s circle, which wanted a dramatic reversal at the last moment, seems to feel a terrible letdown. It seems to still be in shock.
In the 16th presidential election, Roh Moo-hyun earned more than 12 million votes.
Lee Myung-bak won a sweeping victory this time but the total number of votes was around 11.5 million, less than those cast only for Roh. That strong support for the ruling party was eroded away completely.
The ruling party received only half the votes that it used to get. Chung Dong-young, the UNDP’s candidate, received a little bit more than six million votes.
For the past five years, the number of votes for the ruling party has been cut by half.
The number of votes for Chung are much fewer than what Kim Dae-jung received in the 15th presidential election, 10,320,000 votes.
This result is almost the same as bankruptcy for the party.
But the hardship doesn’t seem to end here. The 18th general election will be held in April of next year, which is quite soon.
If the composition of votes turns out the same as in the presidential election, the ruling party will have another disaster.
Geumcheon District is one of the few electoral districts in Seoul where the UNDP is still popular. The incumbent lawmaker for that district is a UNDP member.
In this presidential election, the gap between votes for the Grand National Party and the United New Democratic Party was the smallest.
But the Grand National Party candidate still earned 47 percent, or 56,000 votes, while the UNDP candidate earned 30 percent, or 35,000 votes.
If things persist like this, the GNP will get all 48 seats in the National Assembly allotted for lawmakers representing Seoul.
The UNDP may get zero seats for the Yeongnam area, which refers to South and North Gyeongsang provinces, of course, and also zero for Gyeonggi Province, Incheon, Gangwon Province and Jeju Island. Even in the Chungcheong region, the UNDP may have to witness a fierce competition between the GNP and Lee Hoi-chang’s new party.
The UNDP may be hoping to win only in 31 districts in Honam area, namely South and North Jeolla provinces, and compete against the Democratic Party. That will make the UNDP a local party, instead of a party that represents the entire country.
Of course, there is a possibility that things will change by the time of the general election.
The people may want to keep the new conservative administration in check.
The people might think that it is not good if one of the two forces that supported our political field disappears from the picture.
This scenario is faint hope for the ruling party.
But it is very likely that the people will support Lee Myung-bak’s agenda to restore the economy.
They might think that if they give him a car, they also have to give fuel for the car to run at full speed.
The destiny of the UNDP depends on the people’s decision.
But the party makes people feel that they don’t even deserve pity votes.
In the crisis between survival or perishing, the party says it must take emergency measures.
But behind the scenes its members are fighting for influence.
The party members are still arrogantly misled by the idea that only they pursue peace and only they are conscientious.
They plan to stage negative campaigns again for the general election, even though those failed in the presidential election.
In the general election, the people will say, “the UNDP still doesn’t get it” if the party continues to blame others or attempts to deal “a deadly blow” of negative campaigning.
The ruling party must be changed drastically if it wants to avoid the worst-case scenario in the April general election.
The party members should reflect on their wrongful deeds. They need to admit that they have run the country poorly and take responsibility.
Withdrawing aggressive administrative policies focused on ideologies is one way to do so, with two months left before it hands over the administration. The party members should humbly accept the will of the people, which was revealed through the presidential election, and reflect on their wrongdoings, instead of bearing hard feelings against voters who turned their backs.
*The writer is the senior political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Gyo-joon