An administrative vacuumThough the local elections are over, many seats are still not fixed, as the investigation of elected officials is still ongoing.
Last weekend, the elected head of Seoul’s central district was arrested on charges that he gave 31 million won ($25,800) to his campaign aide for his victory. He became the first elected official apprehended since the elections.
Now he faces a pitiful situation in which he will have to hold his inauguration ceremony in a detention center. Moreover, he has to present his future plan and vision for the district while in detention and also approve all projects there.
When a head of a local government makes a policy decision without directly communicating with his constituents, the official cannot reflect the people’s will properly and will eventually make a wrong decision. Such a situation makes not only the residents who voted for him but also the elected officials embarrassed. But the problem will be the administrative vacuum created all across the country for the time being.
Since the local elections, the prosecution has been investigating many elected leaders for election fraud.
Eight of the elected heads of big municipal governments and 54 of smaller ones are under investigation by the prosecution, with three education superintendents to be investigated for possible violation of election law - most of them on charges of illegal use of money during their campaigns.
Though they won the elections, they face much difficulty in doing their jobs efficiently due to their unstable status. We hope that the prosecution will conclude its investigation as soon as possible if the charges amount to a nullification of victory. Only then can the newly elected officials take over the job with confidence and pour their enthusiasm into administrating efficiently.
The same applies to the trials of elected officials under indictment. If the legal proceedings from the first trial extend to a final one in front of the Supreme Court, administration of local governments will inevitably be crippled because the mayors in question or heads of other governments will still govern their jurisdictions for a considerable period despite their shortcomings. If they receive a sentence stricter than imprisonment without forced labor, their seats will be given to acting replacements.
Even if a new head is chosen through re-election, the winner will have trouble governing the area during the remaining period of his or her predecessor’s term. Residents will suffer a lot as a result of such a process.
Therefore, investigations and trials concerning election fraud need to proceed as fast as possible to minimize the administrative vacuum.