[Outlook]The price of broken promisesThe Grand National Party may win 170 seats in the National Assembly, or it may win less than 150. The people’s voice will decide.
Whatever the results, the 18th general election has taught us promises should be kept no matter what. If someone breaks a promise, he will inevitably face a terrifying ordeal.
Park Geun-hye conceded an election defeat in the party’s Aug. 20 primary elections last year, ahead of the December presidential race. President-elect Lee Myung-bak called on her to “serve a pivotal role in regaining political power.”
However, the road to a peaceful turnover of political power has never been smooth. Candidate Lee was in turmoil last November. BBK was still hanging over the nation like a dark cloud, and former Grand National Party Chairman Lee Hoi-chang’s run for the presidency shook the whole political landscape. He tried to win conservative votes, attempting to make an ally of Park at the same time. Lee Hoi-chang held a press conference on Nov. 11, 2007, setting forth his political views. “I pledge to go in company with Park as a political partner and precious companion,” he said. “I will conduct in-depth consultations on all the impending agenda items with her, after the creation of a political power.” Two days later, former Grand National party Chairwoman Park finally spoke at her house in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul. “Lee Hoi-chang’s run for the presidency is not the right path to take,” she said.
A crowd of 700 gathered in a market in Haeje-myeon, Muan-County, South Jeolla Province on the morning of Nov. 30, despite a cold sea breeze. She appealed for votes, mentioning President-elect Lee’s name three times. Since then, she made a political tour of 13 cities and provinces. A video-clip showing Lee Myung-bak saying he launched BBK was released to the public on Dec. 16, just three days ahead of the presidential election. Lee Hoi-chang visited Park’s house as many as three times before the election date. He also pledged to establish a joint government with Park if he won the election. However, Park did not open her door. In the end, Lee Hoi-chang made no changes to the political landscape, and Lee Myung-bak won a landslide victory in the presidential election.
However, as the party nomination for the general elections approached, Park’s camp was struck with unease. As Lee’s promise to make her “a precious political partner” had already disappeared, a “thorough reshuffle” of legislative candidates seemed poised to come. There was a rumor that Park was planning to make a grave decision. President Lee met with Park on Jan. 24, after she returned home from serving as a special presidential envoy to China. Both said they would endeavor to facilitate a sound and fair party nomination process for the general elections. The media reported that President Lee asked Lee Bang-ho, the party’s secretary general, to “accept every possible request from Park’s side in a positive manner.” However, the result was the opposite. Many high-profile politicians who support Park were dropped from the party’s list of nominees. The Lee Myung-bak camp insists that there was no political revenge involved, but lawmaker Kim Deog-ryong, who co-headed Lee’s election campaign with Park, said, “He [Lee Myung-bak] was responsible for disappointing her.”
For her part, Park said, “Both people and I have been deceived.”
I have no idea how many of Park’s supporters will return alive. If they survive the election, the Grand National party will win half of the Assembly seats. But apart from their political survival, I still have no idea how much political power Park will wield. I have no idea what her future will bring. Many people said: “The era of Park has already passed. There are still many commanders in chief such as Chung Mong-joon, Lee Jae-oh, Oh Se-hoon and Kim Moon-soo. The last presidential election was her last opportunity.”
However, others said, “Park is not finished. The future waits for her. As long as Park keeps her promises and principles, supporters will protect her.” I have no idea which is right or wrong.
Some of the important facts can be summarized as follows: Park has brought promise-oriented politics to the forefront. She also showed that a warm-hearted person may be stronger than a muscular person in the heart of the jungle. The ancient Greek tragedian Sophocles (496 BC - 406 BC) said “I write down women’s pledges on the water’s surface.” Former President Kim Young-sam said to his political aides in the party primary last year, “How dare a woman [run for president]?” As for promises and principles, at least, Sophocles and Kim Young-sam should extend sincere apologies to Park. In the spring of 2008, muscular men who have broken their word do not know what to do in front of a 51-kilogram female politician.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jin