Party shuffle a cynical danceOne of the major problems with Korean politics is how easily politicians create new parties, change affiliations or replace an old political base with a new one without good reason ahead of elections. This chronic illness is likely to recur as the June 2 elections approach.
Former Democratic Party leader Hahn Hwa-kap seems interested in starting a new political party in the Jeolla provinces, tentatively named the “Peace Democratic Party.” He claims that the Democratic Party has still failed to follow through with the wishes of the late Kim Dae-jung and is handling political issues by giving excessive influence to the “Pro-Roh Moo-hyun faction.”
Hahn once acted as an advisor to Kim Dae-jung, and led the Democratic Party without joining the newly formed Uri Party in 2003. He may assume a critical attitude toward the current situation facing the Democratic Party. However, although he is right on that point, he should endeavor to address the party’s weaknesses through internal reform, rather than by tearing the nation’s main opposition party to pieces.
If Hahn forms a new party without any justifiable ground and attracts a big waiting list of applicants for elections, people will criticize him for improvising a party solely for election purposes.
Jung District Office Mayor Jeong Dong-il defected from the Grand National Party and joined the Democratic Party recently. He ran for re-election as an Uri Party candidate in 2004 but was defeated. He changed his political affiliation to the Grand National Party right before the local elections in 2006, when he was elected as mayor. Recently, there has been speculation that he engaged in premature campaigning. Judicial authorities even searched the mayor’s office and seized evidence. Many people have begun casting doubts over whether he might change political affiliations due to the possibility of losing the GDP’s nomination.
Former Welfare Minister Rhyu Si-min ran for an election independent of any party in Suseong District, Daegu, leaving Goyang, Gyeonggi, which was his former constituency, during the 2008 general elections. At that time, he provided an excuse for changing his constituency: “It is necessary that Daegu City and North
Gyeongsang should help promote the growth of progressive politicians.”
This time he has moved to a metropolitan area, hinting that he will run in the Gyeonggi gubernatorial election. He has long advocated the necessity of cultivating progressive politicians in Gyeongsang. He has no justification to move now. The late President Roh, who was Rhyu’s political guru, emphasized many times that it is wrong for a politician to be inconsistent for the sake of seeking immediate gains.