Start anew, GNP

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Start anew, GNP

With Park Hee-tae and Chung Mong-joon joining the race for Grand National Party leadership, we now have eight candidates. The July party convention is particularly significant, because it comes in the midst of a political crisis, just four months after the inauguration of the new administration. The ruling party has been delegated by the people for five years of administration. Therefore, the party convention should serve as a discussion forum to reflect on what went wrong during the first four months of state affairs, and ponder what the administration should reform and where it should be headed.

When we look at how things are moving within the party, it is difficult to find reform and the spirit of renovation.

It is full of talk of how one candidate for leadership is an old man who wasn’t even selected by the party for the legislative elections; of how the party chairman is from Hyundai Heavy Industries, while the president is from Hyundai Construction; who Park Geun-hye is really supporting among many of her supporters; and that the party chairman should come from Seoul, since the president, his chief-of-staff and the speaker of the National Assembly are all from Gyeongsang Province. There is even a strange system whereby the highest vote getter among female candidates becomes a member of the supreme council, regardless of her standing among all leadership candidates. This gesture fuels disrespect for women. It would be better to name all female members of the supreme council without votes.

The Grand National Party popped champagne to celebrate its having come out of a long tunnel by winning the presidential and legislative elections. Therefore, many dreamed that the July convention would be an occasion to celebrate their strong public support and their having regained power over the liberals after 10 years.

The party, however, recorded the deepest and fastest plunge in four months since taking power. The party bragged that it knew public sentiment better than the government, since it had gone through many elections and emphasized ruling party-government cooperation. How then did such a party fail to predict the crisis over U.S. beef imports?

And when the crisis broke, it cast all the responsibility on the president and the government. The party convention should be an opportunity for the party to start anew-to check an unwillingness to take responsibility, acknowledge its poor awareness of problems and to fix its lax system. It is not just the president who should start anew.
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