Struggle for survivalTaking only 81 National Assembly seats in Wednesday’s elections, the United Democratic Party’s suffered its worst defeat as an opposition party.
During the election campaign, the party claimed that there should be checks and balances and one party should not hold a majority.
However, it seems that voters have given the job of combating the Grand National Party to Park Geun-hye instead of to the UDP. The foundations of the UDP are at risk now the conservative parties have established hegemony in this new political system.
Voters did not vote for the UDP because they wanted to punish the party for its failed policies during the so-called “10 lost years.”
Although the party changed its name and its chairman, the voters have not changed their thoughts about the party. UDP members now have to ask themselves fundamental questions if the party is to continue to exist: What is the identity of the party?
Which direction should the UDP take? More liberal or more conservative? Should the party stick to its mixed political stance? It is, after all, led by Sohn Hak-kyu, a former Grand National Party member and the current chairman of the party.
It is true that Korean society is heading toward conservatism, which is due to globalization and10 lost years. Under these circumstances, the UDP might be able to narrow the ideological gap with the second opposition party.
Another option for the party is to look for new alliances with the Creative Korea Party, the Democratic Labor Party or the New Progress Party.
Another question dogging the party is who will replace the party’s star politicians, who have lost their popularity.
The UDP lost its leadership. What kind of leadership should be set up to replace it?
The UDP has increased the proportion of moderate and pragmatic members. They might be able to grow into a powerful group and lead the party.
The party’s fate depends on how it responds to these questions. If it answers incorrectly, the party might wither and die.
We challenge the party members to survive by holding intense and fierce discussions. The party should overcome its defeat and initiate discussion on its identity.
Like a bird flying with two wings, a democracy must have a healthy opposition party.