A daunting challenge for ParkThe beleaguered Grand National Party has turned to presidential hopeful Park Geun-hye to save the party amid plunging approval ratings, internal feud and a series of controversies. Park, who has turned the party around before, is expected to take the helm of its emergency council. Depending on Park’s steering skills, the party could either rebound or sink further. It remains unclear what strategy Park has in mind to resurrect the drowning party. She has yet to accept the request for help, and other members of the emergency council have not been formed.
The GNP is weighing two paths. One is to conduct reform while retaining the party identity. The other is to dissolve the party and organize an entirely new one. The emergency council will choose between the two. Should Park take the lead, she will likely seek opinions from inside and outside the party. Whether it decides on a renovated house or entirely new one, the GNP will not likely be welcomed by the public if its contents remain unchanged.
The executive committee discussed whether the party revamp should be a complete or partial makeover and whether to maintain the emergency council until the legislative elections in April or hold a party convention. It also debated on the extent of authority that may be bestowed on Park. But there were few talks about how to reform the party and what tangible steps should be taken to reinvent it. The party members are still engrossed in the formalities of changing the facade of the party, not the essence.
Whatever the changes may be, the emergency council has the imperative task of undergoing self-retrospection. The party must seriously examine what has caused today’s political impotence and stalemate and why it is loathed by the public. Then it must present a concrete action plan to resolve the current political crisis and ever-deepening social conflict. Should Park spearhead reforms of the ruling party, she will have to explain to the public her political philosophy and values.
In order for the emergency council under Park’s helm to sail smoothly, she must receive unified support from the party. With factional feud and strife, the ship cannot move forward. Park should dismantle her loyalist faction first and gather forces loyal to President Lee Myung-bak to peacefully unify the party. She should demonstrate her skill at politicking. She must also promise that candidate selection for the presidential election will be transparent and fair. Park and party members must remember that this is their last chance to stay in the game.