New liberal party holds ‘American Idol’ vote

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New liberal party holds ‘American Idol’ vote

Another political experiment is being planned by the liberals: opening up the leadership election of the merged Democratic and Civil Unity parties to any member of the public, a source informed about the merger told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

Anyone who wants to vote in the new liberal party’s leadership primary can do so by sending a text message or casting a ballot in person, according to an agreement between the two parties yesterday, the source said.

“This is an unprecedented experiment in the history of political parties,” the source said. Until now, only party members or delegates selected from the public were allowed to cast votes in a party leadership election.

Now it will be as open and as easy as the voting for “American Idol” or “Superstar K.”

According to the agreement, civilian voting will be weighted 70 percent. The remaining 30 percent will be votes cast by delegates at the national convention of the new party on Jan. 15.

From Monday until Jan. 7, anyone who wants to participate in the election should register for the right to vote via mobile phone, the Internet or by calling a landline call center.

All Democrats who have paid their membership fees will be automatically enrolled as voters.

If they miss the mobile vote, they can show up at the convention to cast ballots.

Mobile voting will take place from Jan. 9 to 11, and the participants from the general public can also cast ballots in person on Jan. 14. The new party’s national convention will take place on Jan. 15, at which delegates will cast ballots.

Analysts said the experiment is aimed at differentiating the party from existing ones by highlighting public participation.

“Even if you are not a supporter of the party now, you are likely to support that party in the next election once you participate in the primary,” said Kim Hyung-joon, a professor of political science at Myongji University.

“Parties have seen in the October Seoul mayoral race that voluntary participation of the people is strong enough to overwhelm the existing organizational power,” said Ahn Byoung-jin, a political scientist at Kyung Hee Cyber University. “As the desire for direct democracy grows, political parties must adopt to the change.”

The Socialist Party of France had a similar experiment in its presidential primary in October. The primary was open to any French voter willing to pay 1 euro, and 2.86 million participated.

Other analysts expressed concern that a primary open to the public could actually deepen the current crisis of party politics by demoralizing loyal members of political parties.

By Kim Kyung-jin, Ser Myo-ja []
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