Rules are rulesThe United Democratic Party is experiencing a serious crisis. It involves the composition of the nomination committee for proportional representatives losing voter support that the party laboriously re-earned through the earlier nomination process for district representatives. When selecting 10 members for the new committee led by Park Jae-seung, party co-chairmen Sohn Hak-kyu and Park Sang-cheon employed Kim Min-seok, a party supreme council member, and Shin Geh-ryoon, the party secretary-general. The nomination screening committee decided to exclude Kim and Shin, who were sentenced to prison, from consideration. People criticized this move, saying it was like students having someone who knows less than they do as a teacher. The nomination screening committee suspects that if the two co-chairmen attempt to nominate Kim and Shin as candidates for local constituencies disregarding the decision of the committee. As Park Jae-seung protested, the meeting of the nomination screening yesterday proved unproductive.
Park Jae-seung’s nomination reform restored the UDP, which had nearly collapsed because of the crushing defeat in the presidential election. He excluded those who had jail sentences and replaced 40 percent of the influential lawmakers in the Jeolla provinces with fresh blood. As he maintains noblesse oblige, party chairman Sohn and Chung Dong-young, the former candidate for the presidential election, decided to run for core districts in Seoul in the legislative elections.
Thanks to these drastic changes, the party’s approval rating went up and some UDP members have regained strength to fight against Grand National candidates in the Seoul metro area. The UDP members and its supporters expect that the party will be able to keep the gigantic ruling party in check.
At this crucial moment, the party leaders, including the two co-chairmen, made a mistake. Rules are rules. One of the 11 members excluded from consideration for party nominations said he broke the law for the party’s sake. But for whatever reason, the fact that he broke the law doesn’t change.
As Park Jae-seung said, their failure to earn the party a nomination will serve as a sacrifice for a bigger cause. As senior members of the party pursue their self-interest, however, the possibility of the UDP’s resurrection shrinks.
The party leaders make the flimsy excuse that they have a right to nominate committee members. The co-chairmen must withdraw their decision and put the party back on the right track.