New GNP chairman’s challenges

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New GNP chairman’s challenges

The ruling Grand National Party has elected new leadership - with less noise than usual over election procedures and fewer slanderous campaigns. We congratulate the new leadership, but know they have several challenges ahead.

First of all, this new group must take the initiative to stabilize governance for the remainder of President Lee Myung-bak’s term. The GNP and the Blue House have been out of tune ever since the party’s crushing defeat in the April by-elections. The party’s floor leader confounded the administration by siding with the opposition to call for increased government support in lowering college tuition fees. The ruling party and the administration were also at odds over a proposal to redistribute the investigative powers of prosecutors and police. Meanwhile, Prosecutor General Kim Joon-kyu tendered his resignation, despite the president’s advice to the contrary, in protest of prosecutors’ resultant loss of power.

At times like these, the ruling party should play a bigger role. With the general and presidential elections ahead, the ruling party must take leadership in governance. But it should avoid succumbing to the temptations of populism in order to win votes. Instead, it should exercise responsibility and work on stabilizing governance together with the administration.

For the longer run, the new GNP leadership should revamp the party. The candidates all called for reform, but the primary was stained by the usual slander campaigns and factional disputes. Voter turnout was a mere 25.9 percent.

We expect new party chairman Hong Joon-pyo will not only remain true to his statement that the party must be reborn but also get moving on making that happen.

The GNP must recreate itself to prepare for the general and presidential elections slated for April and December 2012, respectively. The ruling party was endlessly dogged by factional disputes after many of those loyal to the president won the chance to run in the 2008 general elections. In order to present itself as united and reliable, the party’s new leadership should select candidates without reference to their factional affiliations. A fair candidate selection process should be a priority as the party prepares for the presidential elections.

Internal reforms within the ruling party and fair election procedures could provide some important momentum for Korean politics. But the outcome of next year’s general and presidential elections will depend on how voters view the party’s efforts to reform itself.
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