[Viewpoint]Compromising politicsPark Geun-hye said that Pro-Park politicians should be reinstated unconditionally to the Grand National Party. “I cannot help but think that the president is taking the issue personally because they had helped me,” she said.
Lee Myung-bak responded, “The election was not a lopsided victory or a defeat for any of us. We were all winners. Politicians now need to look beyond their personal interests and seek what the citizens want. As president, I am not limited to personal and domestic issues.”
Park said if the president does not trust her and thinks she would create a faction within the party, she would not run in the national party convention. She also asked again for the GNP to allow her supporters to rejoin the party.
Lee said: “There is no such thing as a Pro-Lee faction, although there might be a Pro-Park one. I do not have a rival in Korea. My rivals are foreign leaders; I am competing against them to make the Republic of Korea prosperous. You should break away from conventional politics as well.”
Park responded: “Of course, you are president and have no rivals. Since there are no factions in the Grand National Party, reinstatement should not be an issue.”
Lee argued: “It’s not like I am running for president again. I need to devote myself to reviving the economy. The citizens are anticipating economic revitalization. It’s all that matters.”
Lee and Park have not met since the general elections. Of course, they have never spoken in person. However, they are exchanging their emotions and thoughts fairly well.
The above dialogue has been put together from their remarks from different times and places: Lee’s news conference on April 13, four days after the election and Park’s remarks at the National Assembly on April 25.
Lee and Park are directing rhetoric full of disappointment and regret toward each other. Maybe because of that atmosphere, the Grand National Party is in disorder even though it won a majority, of 153 seats during the 18th National Assembly elections.The mention of “rival” and the emphasis on the economy suggest that Lee has made up his mind to classify discord with Park as an internal Grand National Party issue. Lately, Blue House officials have asked that President Lee no longer be considered Park’s counterpart.
They argue that the presidential primary is long over and such a confrontational structure is not valid anymore. And they are right. However, consumers have a share in politics, too, and many feel uncomfortable about their arguments.
“What if Park gives up and chooses to go her own way? What if the political parties break up and reorganize again? What if the National Assembly falls into chaos and the president is not able to serve his duties properly? Then what about the economy?”
The defeats of former GNP lawmakers Lee Jae-oh and Lee Bang-ho were a surprise. I do not think their defeats were due to the pro-Park curse. Whenever the pro-Lee and the pro-Park factions fought, the GNP was shaken and its supporters knew who was making the trouble. The public is also generous to the underdog.
Before the presidential election, Lee called Park “a partner to tackle state affairs.”
Richard Neustadt, a political scientist specializing in U.S. presidents and a political consultant, said the most important quality of a beloved president is understanding of the golden rule of power division. It is not embarrassing to practice a politics of tolerance and compromise, and it could bring big rewards.
On April 25, President Lee invited everyone who failed to become a lawmaker to the Blue House for dinner. He said: “You did not win not because you were incompetent, but because the voters wanted something else. I feel sorry because we are all part of the administration. Even if you are not in the National Assembly, please help me and be responsible for the citizens. Let’s work together for five years.”
After the banquet, the president took a picture with each attendee, saw them off at the Blue House entrance and waved until the vehicles were out of his sight. Why can’t he do the same for Park Geun-hye?
*The writer is the deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Park Seung-hee