Foggy days for UNDPThe United New Democratic Party selected former Gyeonggi Governor Sohn Hak-kyu as the new party chairman yesterday.
The decision comes around 20 days after the party lost in the presidential election and support from the public began to ebb.
Sohn was a senior political figure in the Grand National Party and worked as a lawmaker, cabinet minister and provincial governor. But for the presidential election, he moved to the new party.
The UNDP is anti-Grand National Party, but it had to take Sohn as a relief pitcher, highlighting the dire state of play at the UNDP party headquaters.
The party stands to experience even greater pain if it loses heavily in the April general elections. The party’s leadership might be replaced or the party itself might undergo major reconstruction.
These are foggy days for the UNDP.
The Grand National Party is expected to win around 200 seats, two-thirds of the National Assembly. Such a victory would give the GNP an enormous amount of leverage, as long as the party remains solid and its supporters loyal.
However, according to the law of checks and balances, a ruling party should not possess this level of control.
If the new party of former Grand National chairman Lee Hoi-chang joins the race, the conservative majority will be keenly felt. If the liberal party becomes too ineffectual, our society will lose balance.
In the United States, the Republicans and the Democrats maintain balance, as do the Conservative Party and the Labour Party in Britain.
A decent opposition party that has some heft in government is vital for a healthy democracy.
The new party has this important duty, but it has failed to meet people’s expectations. The party is divided between pro-Roh Moo-hyun and anti-Roh factions, liberals and conservatives, former Democrats and new forces.
The party fails to understand the people’s wishes and the spirit of the times.
To be reborn fresh and ready to battle the ruling party, the opposition must go through a brutal intraparty struggle.
Otherwise, April will indeed be the cruelest month. The party might become a minority, with some lawmakers representing certain areas only. If so, this would be punishment for the misrule of the past five years. But the loss of effective opposition in government is a loss for the country.